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News Summary

Mohegans Won't Negotiate Smoking Limits Unless Bill Dies

Publication Date: 4/8/2008
  • Author:Heather Allen
  • Publication:TheDay, CT

All along, the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes have said they would prefer to engage in “government-to-government” talks when it comes to restricting smoking in their casinos.

So, when the governor sent a letter to legislators on Friday saying she had begun preliminary discussions with the tribes, lawmakers applauded the move and welcomed Gov. M. Jodi Rell's participation.

But Rell also called for the withdrawal of Senate Bill 419 — the bill that proposes a complete ban on smoking in both Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun. That's something House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, and Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, said they are not willing to do.

And that's where the issue gets sticky.

The chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council said Monday that until the bill dies, the tribe will not come to the table to negotiate.

Both tribes have argued, since the Public Health Committee first introduced the bill, that imposing such a ban by way of state legislation would threaten tribal sovereignty.

And while Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a legal opinion last month that legislators have the legal footing to impose such a ban, he suggested that negotiating with the tribes would spare the state a lengthy and costly court battle.