Government

Osage Congress passes legislation, extends Hun-Kah Session

During the 2019 Hun-Kah Session, the Sixth Osage Nation Congress passed an assortment of bills and resolutions up for consideration.

The 24-day regular spring session for the Osage legislators started March 25 and was slated to end April 22, but the Congress agreed to extend the session up to three additional days due to pending legislation and other matters up for consideration.

As of April 18, the Congress has passed the following bills and resolutions during the Hun-Kah Session:

- ONCA 18-74 (sponsored by Congresswoman Shannon Edwards) is a bill amending the Osage law establishing the Legislative Branch’s Office of Fiscal Performance and Review (OFPR).  

Edwards said the law amendments include recommendations by former OFPR staff and other Congress members in an effort to revamp the audit-focused office, which has remained vacant for a year. Per the law, the OFPR is established to conduct various types of audits to provide an objective examination and independent assessment of the performance and financial conditions of ON entities, departments, programs, boards and commissions and any other entity that receives ON funding. The bill passed on April 11 with a unanimous 11-0 vote with one absence from Congressman John Maker, who has been absent for most of the Hun-Kah Session due to a medical condition and recovery time needed.

- ONCA 19-06 (Congressman Joe Tillman) is an act to create the ON Tax Advisory Board “to study and advise the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Osage Nation on tax policies, regulations, trends and best practices.” According to the bill, the board will exercise no administrative or supervisory function and will review tax laws, policy, perform research and will provide written reports and recommendations for policy changes and any tax law changes. The bill passed on April 18

- ONCA 19-09 (Congresswoman Paula Stabler) appropriates $523,659 in federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant funding awarded to the Nation for the ON Counseling Center. The grant will be used to operate a Medication Assisted Treatment Program.

- ONCA 19-14 (Congressman Eli Potts) is an amendment to the Nation’s membership act to make the number of days for temporary membership consistent. “It defines temporary membership from birth to 240 days and later on in the bill, it defines temporary membership as being 365 days, so ONCA 19-14 is a simple clean-up bill to put everybody on the same page for temporary membership (at 365 days),” Potts said in a Facebook video post.

According to the now-amended Osage membership law, “upon birth and a period not exceeding 365 days thereafter, a child born from a direct lineal descendant of an original allottee shall automatically qualify for temporary membership.” The bill passed unanimously on April 3.

- ONCA 19-16 (Potts) adds a new Osage law section to require the Assistant Principal Chief or designee to notify the Congress of an ON board/ commission member’s resignation within five business days. The bill passed unanimously on April 10.

- ONCA 19-17, ONCA 19-18 and ONCA 19-19 are three identical bills sponsored by Potts to establish respective revolving funds for the Grayhorse, Hominy and Pawhuska village committees. The Nation’s revolving funds are not subject to fiscal year limitations and expenditures out of the fund are directed by each respective village committee to cover village operating costs, equipment purchases and improvement, repairs and maintenance for community facilities and property in the villages. All three bills passed unanimously on April 10.

- ONCA 19-22 (Congressional Speaker RJ Walker) seeks to establish the “Health Careers Summer Program” within the Nation’s Executive Branch to promote and create interest in health careers among Osage students. The program seeks to provide a summer health careers program to young Osages during the months of June, July and August. The bill passed on April 10.

- ONCA 19-23 (Congresswoman Maria Whitehorn) amends the Treasury law to establish the appointment of an Investment Oversight Committee, which is a subordinate committee under the direction of the Nation’s Treasurer. This committee comprises the Treasurer as chairperson and two qualified professionals with one person appointed by the Principal Chief and the other member by motion and an affirmative vote of Congress. The committee is tasked with implementing a financial management plan and investment strategy for the Nation. The bill passed on April 11.

- ONCA 19-24 (Whitehorn) amends the law establishing the Nation’s Permanent Fund to make the investment language consistent with the Treasury law. The bill passed on April 11.

- ONCA 19-32 (Tillman) appropriates $9,423 to the Nation’s matching grant fund to meet the requirement of the Indian Health Service grant for the Pawnee Service Unit Multi-Tribal Individual Water and Sewer Project. The bill passed unanimously on April 12.

- ONCR 19-02 (Congresswoman Alice Goodfox) is a resolution to authorize a limited waiver of sovereign immunity from suit and consent to jurisdiction to travel company Expedia and its owned affiliates. Earlier this year, Osage Casino management said it was in discussions with Expedia to extend Osage Casino hotel guest room booking services to Expedia and its affiliated travel websites, which would require a limited waiver of sovereign immunity for the agreement. The resolution passed unanimously on March 29.

- ONCR 19-03 (Whitehorn) is a resolution to adjust the date that Tallgrass Economic Development LLC is designated as a subsidiary limited liability company of Osage LLC. The resolution passed unanimously on April 3.

- ONCR 19-04 (Goodfox) is a resolution to authorize and approve a limited waiver of sovereign immunity for a detention services (for juveniles) agreement with the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma. The resolution passed unanimously on April 1.

- ONCR 19-05 (Tillman) is a resolution authorizing the Nation’s Bluestem Ranch LLC to change its name to Osage Nation Ranch LLC upon filing the appropriate form with the ON Tax Commission. The resolution passed unanimously on April 12.

- ONCR 19-06 (Stabler) is a resolution authorizing an approving a limited waiver of sovereign immunity for the execution of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Access Agreement with Honeywell International Inc. The resolution passed with an 8-3 vote on April 18. According to the resolution, Honeywell wishes to pay the Nation to conduct validation of Extended Visual Line of Sight Beyond Visual Line of Sight flights by UAVs on property owned by the Nation and an agreement would require a limited waiver of sovereign immunity.

During debate time, Whitehorn expressed concern the agreement should be between one of the Nation’s business entities and not the government and the entire business agreement may not be public. Walker said he supported the resolution, noting the Osage Nation Ranch Board said it supports the agreement and the Attorney General’s office reviewed the agreement as well. ONCR 19-06 passed with “yes” votes from Congress members Goodfox, Brandy Lemon, Archie Mason, Angela Pratt, Stabler, Tillman, Scott BigHorse and Walker. “No” votes came from Whitehorn, Edwards and Potts and one absence by Maker.

ONCR 19-07 (Goodfox) is a resolution authorizing a question to be placed on the next Osage election ballot asking voters whether the Osage Constitution should be amended to require candidates for Principal Chief and Assistant Principal Chief to run on a combined ticket. The resolution passed unanimously on April 12.

For more information on the Hun-Kah Session and filed bills and resolutions up for consideration, visit the Legislative Branch website at https://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/who-we-are/legislative-branch