Planning is underway for the 2022 Inauguration Day set for Saturday, July 9 at the Tulsa Osage Casino Hotel for those elected in the June 6 General Election to take their oaths of office.
The Congressional Affairs Committee started discussing preliminary plans at its November meeting and met again Jan. 12 with Second Speaker Jodie Revard, the committee chair, announcing the venue is booked. She also added the COVID-19 pandemic situation will continue to be monitored in case a backup plan is needed for the swearing-in ceremony with a presiding ON Supreme Court Justice.
For the 2022 inauguration, six Osages – winners with the most General Election votes – will take their oaths to serve on the Eighth ON Congress, as well as the winners in the Principal Chief and Assistant Principal Chief election races. Also this year, the four Judicial Branch judges established in the Osage Constitution – Trial Court Chief Judge and the three Supreme Court Justices – will be subject to retention votes on the same ballot and those officeholders listed on the ballot will take their oaths that day to serve four-year terms like the executive and legislative officeholders.
After visiting with Congressional Clerk Shana Robedeaux on past inaugurations, Revard said she would like the 2022 inauguration to be consistent as in previous years. She noted the Executive Branch should also be involved in the planning and reached out to incumbent Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear before the November meeting. Standing Bear said he is designating his Chief of Staff Jason Zaun to work with whoever is involved with the inauguration planning, Revard said.
Revard told the committee she spoke with Zaun who said he would prepare a budget for the Executive Branch’s share of expenses for the inauguration to cover event costs including venue rental, honorariums, food/ drink refreshments, and other expenses.
Pending any venue changes, this will be the first inaugural event for the Nation’s government held at the Tulsa Osage Casino’s banquet and meeting amenities. In July 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Congressional Affairs Committee (at the time) favored a smaller inauguration held at the Chambers Building on the government campus in Pawhuska due to a recent community outbreak. Six Congress members took their oaths that day in the Chambers lobby area with a reduced size audience and others watching from outside under the portico.
Congressional Budget Analyst Jordan Fraser said funding from the branch’s current fiscal year conferences budget line will be used for its share of inauguration expenses. In the 2018 inauguration (the last election year with the two Executive Branch offices), Fraser said that event costs totaled $17,000 and those were split between the two branches.
The committee then considered setting an $8,500 spending cap on the Congressional share of inauguration expenses. Robedeaux also said “I just want everyone to keep in mind there has been a drastic rate of inflation lately and the $8,500 is based on an event that occurred four years ago, so I want everyone to keep that in mind. There are a lot of expenses when we plan these. We have a venue that we have to acquire, we have to make decisions on food, we have (custom embroidered) blankets and plaques and sometimes we’ve had flowers, sometimes we’ve had outside individuals who made meatpies, printing costs for invitations, we also have a guest speaker, in the past there’s some that came at no charge, there’s others who received an honorarium, we have singers (and a drum) … we can work with whatever is decided.”
Congresswoman and CA Vice-Chair Pam Shaw said, “considering that it was four years ago, it makes sense to me to raise that cap a tad and still live within our means” and proposed a $10,000 cap on the branch’s inauguration expenses.
“I would agree with that,” Revard replied. “And it says, ‘not to exceed’ so maybe we end up spending $8,500, so I’m OK with that.” She then asked the committee for a motion to earmark up to $10,000 for the share of 2022 inauguration costs. The five-member committee passed the motion unanimously.
Revard asked the committee for ideas on who would be in charge of planning on behalf of Congress. After discussion on possible sub-committees, the CA committee favored a suggestion by Legal Counsel Loyed “Trey” Gill to have Revard and Shaw as the representatives and would collaborate with the Executive Branch and report back to the CA committee as needed. On Jan. 12, Revard reported back to the CA committee that she also contacted the Judicial Branch to be involved with planning. She also noted this is an election year for the eight-member Osage Minerals Council and Zaun reached out to the OMC as well. She did not say if a guest speaker was booked and what plans were being made to visit the Tulsa casino amenities in making further planning decisions and for future CA committee information.