NIWRC Press Release:Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act pass the House.

Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act pass the House, move to President’s desk to become law.

Two important bills aiming to address issues that contribute to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) crisis are one step closer to becoming law. Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act are heading to the President’s desk after both passed voice vote yesterday in the House. This following a Unanimous Consent vote in the Senate on March 11, 2020.

Savanna’s Act

Originally introduced in 2017 by Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Savanna’s Act failed to pass the House during the 2016-2018 term. Champions for Native women in the House and Senate worked together across aisles and across chambers to reintroduce improved companion bills in both the House and Senate in 2019.

Savanna’s Act aims to improve the response to missing and murdered Native women by:

· Improving tribal access to federal criminal information databases;

· Requiring data collection on missing and murdered Native people; and

· Directing the U.S. Attorneys to develop law enforcement and justice protocols to address missing persons.

Significant changes that NIWRC and other organizations have advocated for include:

· Expand the requirement for the creation of law enforcement guidelines to all U.S. Attorneys, not just those with Indian Country jurisdiction, and require such guidelines to be regionally appropriate;

· Require the Attorney General to publicly list the law enforcement agencies that comply with the provisions of the legislation (rather than list those that don’t comply); and

· Replace the affirmative preference subsections with an implementation and incentive section that provides grant authority to law enforcement organizations to implement the provisions of the legislation and increases the amount of those grants for those that comply, while removing the preference provision in the original S. 277 that will punish Tribal Nations lacking sufficient resources to implement the guidelines their local U.S. Attorney creates.

Not Invisible Act

The Not Invisible Act introduced in 2019 in both chambers aims at addressing the crisis of missing, murdered, and trafficked Native people by engaging law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, and service providers and improving coordination across federal agencies.

The Not Invisible Act will establish an advisory committee of local, tribal, and federal stakeholders to make recommendations to the Department of Interior and Department of Justice on best practices to combat the epidemic of disappearances, homicide, violent crime, and trafficking of Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

“We stand with Congress as they take an important first step in answering the calls of Native families, advocates, and Tribes in addressing the MMIW crisis with the passage of these two important bills. Legislative action is an important first step for the federal government to uphold its trust responsibility to assist Tribal nations in safeguarding the lives of Native women and children. NIWRC looks forward to working with federal agencies as they begin to implement Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act as law.”

Media Contacts:

Elizabeth Carr

Senior Native Affairs Advisor, NIWRC

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