Government

FY 2020 budgetary bills filed for Osage Congress consideration

When the 2019 Tzi-Zho Session starts on Sept. 3, the Sixth Osage Nation Congress will consider and take action on scores of filed bills and resolutions throughout the 24-day legislative session.

Congress typically focuses on considering and passing the upcoming fiscal year government operations budgets during the fall session. The 2020 fiscal year starts on Oct. 1. Other appropriation bills seeking funding will also be considered for action during the session.

The following budget and appropriation bills and budget-related legislation are now filed for Congressional consideration:

ONCA 19-60 (sponsored by Congresswoman Shannon Edwards) is an $8.5 million appropriation for the Nation’s higher education scholarship fund. The $8.5 million appropriation is requested to come out of the Nation’s general fund where unappropriated tribal money is kept. The appropriation is intended to fund scholarships awarded to Osage higher education students for the 2019-2020 academic year, according to the bill.

ONCA 19-61 (Edwards) is an appropriation for $4.3 million to replenish the Nation’s health benefit fund for direct assistance to Osage elders age 65 and over. The Nation offers a $1,000 annual health benefit to elders or Medigap insurance Plan F and Plan D premiums as set forth in the Osage health benefit law, according to the bill. The $4.3 million is requested from the Nation’s general fund.

ONCA 19-62 (Congressman John Maker) is a $20,000 appropriation (from the general fund) to purchase and install a headstone monument “at the St. Francis Cemetery in St. Paul, Kans. to commemorate a mass Osage burial site.”

ONCA 19-63 (Congressional Speaker Joe Tillman) is a proposed amendment to the Nation’s permanent fund law (with a $30 million balance since its inception) “to authorize utilization of funds by appropriation for government operations and government services during a financial emergency.” Currently, the permanent fund law states the Nation “may not borrow, encumber by debt covenant or appropriate funds from the permanent fund except for expenditure on direct assistance by appropriation for the Osage Nation membership.”

ONCA 19-65 (Edwards) is an appropriation bill requesting $1 million for the ON Museum fund out of the Nation’s general fund.

ONCA 19-66 (Edwards) is a $14 million appropriation bill to replenish the Nation’s health benefit fund for direct assistance to enrolled Osages under age 65. The health benefit fund is a revolving fund with its appropriated money allowed to roll over to the next fiscal year. The $14 million will cover approved filed claims submitted by Osages who enroll in the health benefit program and will also cover third-party administrative costs, which are approximately $300,000 based on 2018 and 2019 health benefit reports, according to ONCA 19-66.

ONCA 19-67 (Tillman) is a $175,000 appropriation to the ON Ranch LLC for bison fencing at the ranch southwest of Pawhuska. The money is a request of tribal funding from the general fund, according to the bill.

ONCA 19-68 (Congressman Eli Potts, who is also chairman of the Congressional Appropriations Committee) is a $135,000 appropriation (from the general fund) to the Nation’s capital asset fund for equipment acquisition purposes.

ONCA 19-69 (Potts) is a $93,500 appropriation for the Nation’s FY 2020 cultural donations. According to the bill, the entities listed to receive monetary donations in this bill are: American Legion Auxiliary ($5,000); The three district drumkeepers ($19,500 to be split three ways); Osage Princess Sorority ($5,000); Harold Bigheart Smalley American Legion Post 198 ($40,000); Osage Detachment of the Marine Corps League #669 ($10,000); Gray Horse War Mothers Association ($5,000); Hominy War Mothers Association ($5,000); and $4,000 to the Native American Church chapters.

ONCA 19-70 (Potts) is a $173,673 appropriation for employee merit payments in accordance with the Nation’s Workforce Pay for Performance Act.

ONCA 19-71 (Potts) is the FY 2020 budget in the amount of $584,081 for the Osage Press, which is for the Osage News operations and the newspaper’s Editorial Board. The requested amount includes the newspaper operations proposed budget of $558,543 and the Editorial Board budget of $25,538.

ONCA 19-72 (Potts) is a $300,000 appropriation for the Nation’s restricted real property repurchase fund.

ONCA 19-73 (Potts) is the FY 2020 Village Committee Funds Appropriation Act, which has the respective budgets for the Hominy and Grayhorse villages set at $50,000 each. The Pawhuska Village Committee receives revenue from its rental lease with the Pawhuska Osage Casino, which is located within the southeast corner of the village property. The budgeted funds for the village committees (also called five-man boards) are typically used for landscaping, utility costs and other upkeep costs to maintain the village community buildings and common areas.

ONCA 19-74 (Potts) is the FY 2020 budget for the Legislative Branch, Congressional Office operations and the Office of Fiscal Performance and Review. According to the bill, the Legislative Branch budget request totals $1.9 million and the OFPR operations budget is $165,343 with the budgeted amounts to come from the general fund.

ONCA 19-75 (Potts) is a $500,000 appropriation to replenish the Nation’s burial assistance fund. The Nation’s burial assistance program, administered by Constituent Services, is used to help offset funeral expenses for deceased enrolled Osages with the benefit maximum at $5,000 per person.

ONCA 19-76 (Potts) is the FY 2020 budget for the Attorney General’s Office operations set at $1.7 million.

ONCA 19-77 (Potts) is the FY 2020 budget for the Executive Branch containing respective budgets totaling $26 million for various departments, programs, boards/ commissions, and the Office of the Principal Chief.

As of Aug. 29, the Judicial Branch’s budget did not appear with the other filed appropriation bills on the Legislative Branch’s website. According to Judicial Branch Court Administrator Jeanna Red Eagle, the branch’s submitted FY 2020 budget totals $$556,009 with $464,159 requested from tribal funding and $91,850 in federal grant funding awarded to the Tribal Court.

ONCA 19-80 (Congresswoman Maria Whitehorn) is an amendment to the Nation’s economic development fund law. According to the bill, the amendment seeks to require economic development appropriation requests include “a detailed budget to include expenditure allocations directed to improving the economic growth of the Nation in each category of authorized expenditure. A separate proposed amendment specifically names the Treasurer as the administrator of the economic development fund.”

ONCA 19-81 (Whitehorn) is a bill appropriating $1 million to the Nation’s economic development fund with the requested funding to come from the Nation’s retained revenue fund.   

Congressional meeting notices and agendas for sessions and committee meetings are posted online to the Legislative Branch calendar at: www.osagenation-nsn.gov/who-we-are/congress-legislative-branch/calendar

The session and committee meetings held in the ON Capitol Building are public meetings (excluding executive sessions allowed by Osage law) and will be live-streamed at: www.osagenation-nsn.gov/multimedia/live-media