Seventh ON Congress passes eight legislative items in August special session

The Seventh Osage Nation Congress met for its second special session Aug. 5-11 and approved eight legislative bills and resolutions up for consideration.

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear issued an executive proclamation calling for the special session as authorized by the Osage Constitution. The special session took place with some of the 12 Congress members present at the ON Capitol Building while others opted to attend by videoconference as part of social distancing and COVID-19 precautionary measures.

Standing Bear delivered an executive message at the session’s start on Aug. 5 stating his administration “is looking forward to working with you in accomplishing some progress for our people … I will support the will of the Congress as it comes out of this session on all these (proclamation) matters.”

The Congress will meet for its first regular Tzi-Zho Session starting for a 24-day duration on Sept. 8. The primary focus of the session will be the consideration and approval of government operations budgets for the 2021 fiscal year starting Oct. 1.

During the second special session, the following bills and resolutions received passing votes:

- ONCR 20-24 (sponsored by Congresswoman Jodie Revard): A resolution to approve the 2021 fiscal year annual revenue projection for the Nation. According to the Constitution, Congress shall enact, by law, an annual expenditure of funds, which shall include an appropriation of operating funds for each branch of government for the fiscal year and the annual budget shall not exceed projected revenues.

According to ONCR 20-24, the Nation projects to receive a total of $56.1 million with $50.7 million coming from tribal funding. The Nation also projects to receive approximately $5.4 million in restricted revenue with $5 million in third-party clinic billings from the Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center and $461,885 from the Treatment Alternative to Street Crime (TASC) operations.

For tribal funding, the Nation projects to receive $46 million from the Gaming Enterprise/ Osage Casinos operations and $2.2 million from Tax Commission revenue. The Nation’s departments and programs that collect income are projected to receive $2.1 million and $250,000 from bank interest income. ONCR 20-24 passed with an 11-1 vote on Aug. 11.

- ONCR 20-23 (Congresswoman Angela Pratt): A resolution to authorize and approve execution of a “Contract for Treatment Services” with the State of Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and to authorize a limited waiver of sovereign immunity from suit and a consent to jurisdiction.    

According to the resolution, the state provides compensation to the Nation for “treatment services to participants of the Oklahoma Drug Court Program” through a contract for treatment services or other integrated services. The resolution passed unanimously on Aug. 11.

ONCR 20-22 (Pratt): A resolution authorizing the Principal Chief “to negotiate terms of a gaming compact and to present any negotiated new terms of a gaming compact to the Osage Nation Congress for approval.” The resolution unanimously passed on Aug. 11.

ONCR 20-21 (Congresswoman Alice Goodfox): A resolution “to establish to the consent of the Osage Nation Congress to the alienation of property and for the property to be conveyed.”

According to ONCR 20-21, the Congress “finds it is in the best interest of the Osage Nation to authorize the alienation of the real property described” in a confidential document due to proprietary matters. The resolution passed with an 11-1 vote on Aug. 11.

ONCA 20-63 (Congressman Scott BigHorse) is a $250,000 appropriation bill to fund “an interpretive plan, pre-design services and master planning for the Osage Nation Museum expansion.”

According to the bill, the $250,000 will come out of the Nation’s property income account to be placed into the Capital Asset Fund for the design work on an expanded museum. Located on the ON government campus in Pawhuska, the ON Museum is the oldest tribally-owned museum in the United States, which received a May 2, 1938 opening dedication. The bill passed unanimously on Aug. 11.

ONCA 20-61 (Congressman RJ Walker) is a bill amending the Nation’s Higher Education Scholarship Fund.

According to the bill, the amendment increases the limit on third-party administration costs from $220,000 per calendar year to $280,000 per calendar year to address additional costs owed to Scholarship America, which currently administers the scholarship program and is paid out of the Nation’s Higher Education Scholarship Fund per the law. The bill passed unanimously on Aug. 11.

ONCA 20-60 (Congresswoman Paula Stabler) is a bill “to amend the limitations on expenditure of health revenue.

According to ONCA 20-60, the law amendment notes that expenditure of health care revenue shall be limited to delivery of health-related services by the Nation including administrative costs to provide those services, “except that third-party revenue (collections of Medicare, Medicaid and Private Insurance), in accordance with (the federal Indian Health Care Improvement Act), may be expended on facilities and/ or land.” The bill passed unanimously on Aug. 11.

ONCA 20-59 (Congresswoman Brandy Lemon) is an act “to remove the Health Authority Board’s duty to make all personnel decisions.”  

According to the bill, the language removed from Osage law establishing the Health Authority Board is the board’s duties/ responsibilities to make all personnel decisions regarding executive (healthcare) administration and all employees or contractors that provide patient care at healthcare facilities including the Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center. Personnel matters will be handled by the Nation’s Human Resources Department as a result of the law change. The bill passed with an 11-1 vote on Aug. 11.

Standing Bear signed all passing legislative items after the special session adjourned on Aug. 11.

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