ON Congress passes appropriation bills during June special session

The Fifth Osage Nation passed several pieces of legislation during its two-day special session June 7-8 including those dealing with budget matters.

The following bills received passing votes and were signed into law by Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear:

- ONCA 17-75: A bill to provide a supplemental appropriation for the Nation’s Child, Family and Senior Services Division for $16,193, which is federal benefit money in total awarded to an Osage juvenile currently in permanent custody of the Nation. The bill, sponsored by Congressman Ron Shaw, amends the division budget to reflect the benefit money added to the budget.

Shaw said the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) money is awarded to the disabled individual “and those SSI funds will be paid to the Nation and in order to pay expenses for that child and also to spend any excess funds that are left after expenses are covered,” a supplemental appropriation bill is required. The bill passed unanimously.

- ONCA 17-76: A bill to appropriate $70,000 in tribal funding to the Nation’s capital asset and improvement fund for property purchases in Pawhuska. The bill passed with nine “yes” votes and one “no” from Congressman Joe Tillman on June 8. There were two absences that day from Congress members Shannon Edwards and James Norris.

Standing Bear told the Congress his branch is requesting the money to pay for three land parcels around the Nation’s interpretive center at the intersection of Lynn Avenue and Main Street. The Executive Branch cleaned out the former pawn shop building (purchased by the Nation years ago) last year and opened it as an interpretive center, but Standing Bear said he believes its title should change to the ON “visitors center.”

Congresswoman Maria Whitehorn, the bill’s sponsor, said she visited with the Executive Branch and “it makes sense to own that property so we can dominate that area, it has been on the market.” Two of the land parcels are west of the interpretive center, with one of them holding the former Greek’s Restaurant razed years ago.

- ONCA 17-77: An act (sponsored by Whitehorn) to appropriate $80,000 to the matching grant fund for an application for an Administration for Native Americans Social and Economic Development Strategies grant. The $80,000 will be put toward matching the $320,000 federal grant, if the Nation is selected for the grant.

Whitehorn said the grant funding will go toward future developments of the Nation’s visitor’s center. The interpretive center opened in fall 2016 for a limited time due to shortage of funding. Standing Bear previously said opening the building gives a platform for the Osage Nation to promote its culture and identity. The bill passed unanimously.

- ONCA 17-82: A bill (sponsored by Congresswoman Alice Buffalohead) to appropriate $55,666 to the matching grant fund for an ANA Environmental Regulatory Enhancement grant application.

According to a fiscal analysis of ONCA 17-82, the $55,666 will be used to match a second ANA grant the Nation is applying for. The grant is being sought for law enforcement training costs, a utility vehicle and supplies, as well as funding one current and one new position. If the grant is awarded, the Nation will receive $278,237. The bill passed unanimously.

The Congress will next convene for its eighth special session starting on Aug. 2. Per the Osage Constitution, special sessions may last up to 10 days.

For more information on the Legislative Branch, filed legislation and Congressional committee meeting information, visit the Congressional website at: