The Second Osage Nation Congress convenes for its first Hun-Kah Session on March 21 at the Congressional Chambers in Pawhuska. This regular spring session will last up to 24 days and may be extended for three additional days, if needed.
During the session, the Congress will consider various pieces of legislation with ten bills already filed one week prior to session.
Bills and resolutions to consider so far – to raise the minimum wage for the Nation’s government employees; to build storm shelters for Osage government workers and citizens; to amend the Nation’s Ethics Law; an updated budget parameters act; and whether to send a question to the voter ballot on whether the Principal Chief should be term-limited.
Congressional Speaker Jerri Jean Branstetter has filed the “Osage Fair Minimum Wage Act” which would set the minimum wage for government employees at $10 per hour with an increase to $11.50 per hour starting in the 2015 fiscal year. The bill number is ONCA 11-27.
If passed, the $10 minimum wage increase would start on the date ONCA 11-27 takes effect. The $11.50 minimum wage increase would start on Oct. 1, 2014.
Many of the Nation’s employees work for $7-8/hour, putting them below the poverty line in some circumstances.
Congressman Raymond Red Corn filed ONCA 11-31, which is the “Osage Nation Storm Safety Act” which calls for the Nation to build adequate shelters for Osages and government employees “in the event of violent weather or other natural disasters.”
The bill requires the storm shelters to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency building standards as well as Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.
The Nation’s Emergency Management Department, which will be in charge of establishing rules, regulations and inspections for the shelters, will receive $750,000 for FY 2011 and 2012 for construction costs, if the bill passes.
Red Corn is also reintroducing another budget parameters act (ONCA 11-32), which would replace a previous one set in 2009. The updated bill, which sets rules for government departments to follow when setting budgets, places a July 15 deadline on the government entities to submit budgets to Congress which are approved during the Tzi-Zho Session.
The newer budget parameters act also requires that “salary and wage increases shall be made solely according to the provisions of a merit-based system established in Osage law except as otherwise provided by the Osage Constitution.” The Congress passed a bill to create a merit-based employment system last year.
This new budget parameters act comes after a previous one (introduced by Red Corn in January for the Fifth Special Session) that was pocket vetoed by Principal Chief Red Eagle.
Red Corn has introduced ONCA 11-13 to amend the Nation’s Ethics Law which adds the Attorney General’s position and duties into the law so “all complaints of ethical violations against tribal officials shall be filed with the Attorney General. The Attorney General shall investigate and determine that the complaint is valid and that the complainant has standing… Once the Attorney General has determined that the complaint has sufficient basis for prosecution,” then the AG shall file the case in the Nation’s Trial Court.
ONCA 11-13 also“seeks to eliminate the exception Congress carved out for itself in the Ethics bill,” wrote Red Corn in his e-mail newsletter. “This amendment, if passed, would put members of Congress on the same footing as everyone else.”
Congresswoman Alice Goodfox has filed ONCR 11-06, which is a resolution to place a question on the next general election ballot concerning term limits for the Principal Chief’s Office. The Principal Chief’s term currently has no limits on the number of times he or she can run for office.
If Congress passes ONCR 11-06, the question of amending the Osage Constitution to limit the Principal Chief to three terms will be included on the ballot during the 2012 General Election.
Visit the Congressional Web site at www.osagetribe.com/congress for more information, to view filed legislation items and to view Congressional Committee meeting notices.