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Constitutional amendment question will appear on 2024 ballot

The amendment question asks voters whether to allow appointees to be confirmed by the Legislative Branch during special sessions in addition to the two regular sessions each year.

When voters mark their ballots in the June 3, 2024, Osage Nation General Election, there will be one Constitutional amendment question asking whether to allow appointees to be confirmed by the Legislative Branch during special sessions in addition to the two regular sessions each year.

On Feb. 28, the Wahzhazhe Elections Board unanimously approved the ballot question language as written by ON Attorney General Clint Patterson. The question will appear along with the certified candidates running for six opening ON Congressional seats in the General Election.

During the 2023 Hun-Kah Session, the Eighth ON Congress approved the proposed Constitutional amendment question, which is in resolution ONCR 23-07 (sponsored by Congressman Joe Tillman) “to provide for an election to amend Article VII, Section 15 of the Constitution of the Osage Nation to allow appointments to be confirmed in special session.”

The question’s purpose reads: “The purpose of this constitutional amendment is to allow executive branch interim appointees to be confirmed or rejected during a special session of the Congress. As the Constitution reads now, interim appointees can only be confirmed or rejected during a regular session of Congress.”

As approved by the Election Board, the ONCR 23-07 ballot question reads: “Shall the Constitution of the Osage Nation be amended to allow Executive appointees to be confirmed or rejected during a special session of the Osage Nation Congress?”

Election Supervisor Alexis Rencountre said the ballot question was not expected until later in March, but Patterson drafted the question early in consultation with the sponsors. Election Board Chair Shannon Lockett said the question is “pretty straightforward” as the board read the question language.

Rencountre said the board will approve the ballot later in March after the list of candidates is certified when the filing period closes on March 12 and pending background checks.

Appointees who are subject to confirmation votes include board and commission members, as well as the Nation’s Treasurer and Attorney General posts, according to Osage law.

Through the years, Congress members, including Tillman and Congressional Speaker Alice Goodfox expressed concerns about individual appointments being made on an interim basis and those appointees would not be vetted by Congress and considered for confirmation votes until the next regular session, which could be months away.

The 2006 Osage Constitution mandates that Congress “shall convene twice annually in regular (24-day) sessions, so that six months shall not intervene between the last sitting of the Congress and its first sitting in the next session.” The Congress convenes in September following Labor Day for the Tzi-Sho Session and on the final Monday of March for the Hun-Kah Session and special sessions can be called at other times by legislative or executive proclamations. 

Constitutional amendments will take effect if 65% of the voters approve the question by marking “yes.” The Osage Constitution has been amended four times by Osage voters in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2020 since the reformed government launched.

Author

  • Benny Polacca

    Title: Senior Reporter

    Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

    Instagram: @bpolacca

    Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

    Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

    Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

    Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

    Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

Benny Polacca
Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org

Title: Senior Reporter

Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

Instagram: @bpolacca

Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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