ON Congress passes several appropriation bills in Hun-Kah Session

The 2016 Hun-Kah Congressional Session ended with several appropriation bills passed for initiatives and to replenish funds used for direct services, but a summer special session is likely to finish remaining funding matters.

The following is a list of some passed bills, which requested tribal dollars (unless specified otherwise) for program initiatives and department operations:

- ONCA 16-66 (sponsored by Congressman William “Kugee” Supernaw)  is an act to remove the restriction on a previous (unspent) $1.5 million appropriation to the Osage Limited Liability Company to its predecessor Tallgrass Economic Development LLC and to provide a capital contribution appropriation of $500,000 for its operations. The bill passed on April 21 with a 10-2 vote with “no” votes from Congressmen Otto Hamilton and John Maker.

- ONCA 16-69 (Supernaw) is a $2 million appropriation to the Bluestem Ranch LLC Board for its operations. The bill passed on April 21 with a 10-2 vote with “no” votes from Congress members Shannon Edwards and Ron Shaw.

- ONCA 15-107 (sponsored by Congresswoman Alice Buffalohead) is an act to provide financial assistance to disabled Osage members and to designate $50,000 for the assistance program to take place. Buffalohead said she sought the program to help Osages who may not have the financial resources or health benefit card funds to pay for disabled costs including handicap equipment and training classes for disabled living.

- ONCA 16-47 (sponsored by Congresswoman Shannon Edwards) is an appropriation bill for $11,000 that will be placed in the Nation’s Regional Gathering Fund, which is available to regional Osage organizations to help pay for their meeting costs. Edwards said this amount is a replenishment of the fund for the 2017 fiscal year starting Oct. 1.

A 2011 Osage law established the regional gathering fund to provide money to Osage organizations that apply for the funding to help defray their fellowship meeting costs including meeting room rentals and audio/ visual equipment rentals. Regional Osage organizations eligible to apply for the funding include those who have annual or semi-annual meetings and gatherings including the United Osages of Southern California and the Northern California Osages.

- ONCA 16-50 (Congressional Speaker Maria Whitehorn) is a $265,438 appropriation bill for federal grant funds to the Nation’s Child, Family and Senior Community Services division. This appropriation is for the recently awarded federal grant the Nation is receiving from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to assist 20 Native American homeless veterans.

- ONCA 16-36: A $75,000 grant donation to the City of Barnsdall for water treatment and installation of new filtering equipment. Edwards, who sponsored the bill, said she spoke with Barnsdall Mayor Brock Moore (Osage) regarding the water issue, who said the city is planning to take out loans to pay for new water filtering equipment at the city treatment plant. Moore told Edwards that anything the Nation can contribute would help, she said.

The bill’s unanimous passage comes two months after Barnsdall underwent a boil order that lasted just over a week due to high turbidity levels, which left the drinking water cloudy. The Bartlesville Osage Casino was also impacted by the boil order because it receives its water from Barnsdall as part of a rural water district.

- ONCA 16-38: A $150,000 appropriation bill (Supernaw) for the purchase of real property in Hominy with the money being appropriated to the capital asset and improvement fund for a new Wellness Center. Supernaw said the money will go toward purchasing land in Hominy by the Head Start building. The current fitness center is located north of town in the Nation’s Industrial Park and residents told Supernaw the facility is too small for the workout equipment.

Earlier this year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) informed the Nation that its grant request for $800,000 in federal funds was approved with the money designated to build a new fitness/ Wellness Center.

- ONCA 16-39: An appropriation bill (Supernaw) to appropriate $55,000 to the Nation’s restricted real property repurchase fund. Supernaw said the money is being used to finish a restricted property purchase being pursued by the Executive Branch.

The Congress will likely meet in special session following the July inauguration of the Fifth Osage Nation Congress members to revisit appropriation matters including funding for the Nation’s higher education scholarship program, burial assistance and health benefit card. Efforts to pass these funding levels were unsuccessful during the Hun-Kah Session that ended on April 21, but Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear has said funding for these direct services are adequate for the remaining 2016 fiscal year.

For more information on the 2016 Hun-Kah Session, legislation and committee meetings, visit the Congressional website at: