After decades of negotiations, Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) was proud to announce that the Governor signed his bill that was a major step forward for the Franklin County Land Claim issue between the county and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. When the two parties came to an agreement in early June, Jones worked tirelessly to author and negotiate this bill so that it could pass the State Legislature before the end of legislative session that month. The bill (A7759/S7566) was sponsored by Jones in the Assembly and Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Buffalo) in the Senate.
“Although I’ve been involved in this for over a decade, most of the credit goes to the Franklin County legislators past and present, the County Managers, the town officials, and the members of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe who worked hard to come to this agreement,” said Jones. “This was something I worked on as chair of the Franklin County Legislature, so I know firsthand how challenging it was to get to this point. After years of tedious negotiations, this bill is a major step forward and provides the framework for the Governor to further negotiate this decades long impasse.”
The Franklin County land claim issue first arose in the 1980s when the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe sued the state regarding land that was sold to the New York in the 1820s. Since the land has been developed and under the jurisdiction of the county and local municipalities since it was sold centuries ago, both parties had to determine how to proceed in a way that was fair to everyone which includes covering tax revenue loss and paying for shared infrastructure. Jones worked on this issue for over a decade as both county legislator and state assemblyman.