Government

Fourth ON Congress meets for 12th special session

The Fourth Osage Nation Congress convened for its 12th special session on Feb. 23 with the legislative body scheduled to consider a few items including amendments to the Nation’s election law and rules and an appropriation bill for the governmental operations division.

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said he called for the special session in response to a request by the ON Election Board so proposed amendments can be considered to the election code and rules/ regulations with election season underway.

“The next election is coming up in June 2016, at the very least (the election board) would like the rules and regulations, which means they would have to be approved by Congress 90 days prior to the election,” Standing Bear said in his executive address to the Congress.

The Congressional governmental operations committee initially considered the revised election code bill (ONCA 15-76 sponsored by Congressman James Norris) and will also consider the Nation’s election rules/ regulations (ONCR 15-19) on Feb. 24.

Standing Bear said his office is also presenting a $111,097 appropriation bill (ONCA 15-84 sponsored by Congressman William “Kugee” Supernaw) for Congressional consideration to assist with closing costs for the Bluestem Ranch purchase. According to a fiscal analysis of the bill, the requested $100,151 will be appropriated to the Tribal Development and Land Acquisition department’s budget, if passed.

Standing Bear also said his office submitted a proposal to ratify the actions taken in the 11th special session earlier this month, which was called as an emergency special session so the Congress could approve a waiver of sovereign immunity for the purchase agreement of the Bluestem Ranch property. Congressional Speaker Maria Whitehorn said she received notice of the special session 18 hours prior to the Feb. 5 session’s 10 a.m. start.

During his time as a practicing attorney representing small towns, Standing Bear said ratification actions “was a common practice when certain timetables could not be met because of an emergency situation – we often would go back and ratify the prior actions. If you don’t believe it’s necessary, then so be it, it’s just good practice that the cities and towns use… we just don’t want anything to get in the way of the purchase of the ranch,” Standing Bear said.

Whitehorn said the proposed changes to the election code and rules/ regulations are suggested by the Election Board, which has presented amendments to those governing documents after each ON election as part of improving the voting process.

Ratification of actions is rare in the ON Congressional history with one of the last ratification votes taking place during the Principal Chief Red Eagle administration.

During the 2011 Hun-Kah Session, the Second ON Congress unanimously voted to ratify the confirmation of then-Attorney General Jeff Jones, who was confirmed during a special session earlier that year as the Nation’s first AG. Despite the confirmation, Chief Red Eagle’s office expressed concern over the timing and argued the confirmation should have occurred during the 24-day Hun-Kah Session versus a special session, which may last up to 10 days.

On Feb. 24, the Fourth ON Congress will consider a resolution (ONCR 16-13 sponsored by Congressman RJ Walker) which seeks “to ratify and affirm actions taken during the Eleventh Special Session.”

For more information on the special session and other information regarding the Congress/ Legislative Branch, visit: www.osagenation-nsn.gov/who-we-are/congress-legislative-branch