State, Narragansetts argue legality of tax-free smoke shop
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A federal judge heard arguments Tuesday on the legality of the Narragansett Indiansï¿½ tax-free smoke shop on tribal land near Charlestown.
Attorneys for the state and the tribe argued on the issue of who was taxable, the tribe or the consumer, and whether state tax laws apply on tribal land.
The tribe opened a tax-free tobacco shop on its land July 14, but the state shut it down two days later during a state police raid that was caught by television news cameras.
The tribe claimed that because it is federally recognized, it is not subject to state tax laws and should be allowed to operate the shop.
ï¿½Whether it seems fair or not, itï¿½s applicable and it holds,ï¿½ said Douglas J. Luckerman, an attorney for the Narragansetts. ï¿½There cannot be any control by the state of Rhode Island.ï¿½
But the state argued the tribe is ignoring the 1978 Settlement Act between the state and the Narragansetts that says state laws prevail on tribal land.
Judge William Smith took the arguments under advisement and said he hopes to issue a decision within 60 days.