Third ON Congress to consider appropriation bills in third week of session

The Third Osage Nation Congress will start considering legislation with appropriations during its third week of the 2013 Hun-Kah Session.

The Congress delayed consideration of legislation with dollar amounts until discussions could be held on ways to handle spending because the total amount of appropriation bills to be considered this session is about $94 million. Congress officials and ON Treasurer Callie Catcher noted there is about $53 million in the bank, leaving the Congress to make critical decisions on handling the funding requests.

The Congressional Appropriations Committee has met two times to consider the budget situation and voted to recommend a spending cap at $45.9 million. The committee will meet again on April 8 to consider legislation related to budgeting matters and spending limits.

On April 3, the Congress voted unanimously to hold appropriation bills from final votes until April 10. Congresswoman Shannon Edwards, who made the motion, said she would like the spending bills to move forward at the same time in the legislation process.

“As I understand, we have guidance on appropriation amounts,” said Edwards, “I would like for us as a Congress to get the bills on the floor at the same time to debate and move forward.”

Bills under consideration this session are requested for donations, supplemental funding requests for government operations and one proposed to create a revolving fund for the master plan for a new government campus.

In the meantime, the Congress passed a bill, ONCA 13-22 sponsored by Congressional Speaker Raymond Red Corn, which appropriates the Pawhuska Osage Casino lease revenue to the Pawhuska Indian Village Five-Man Board. The bill, passed with an 11-1 vote on April 3, and was signed into law by Principal Chief John Red Eagle on April 5.

According to ONCA 13-22, the bill appropriates the Pawhuska Osage Casino lease revenue paid to the village board for the 2013 fiscal year.

Other legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by Red Eagle includes:

ONCR 13-05: A resolution, sponsored by Edwards, to request the federal Department of the Interior to place land next to the Skiatook Osage Casino into trust. The casino project is under construction with the land designated for the casino already in trust status. Edwards said the trust status request is for the land where the hotel with 30-plus rooms is being built. The resolution passed unanimously on April 3.

ONCR 13-06: A resolution sponsored by Congressman Archie Mason giving Congressional approval to an agreement between the Nation and Ponca City government for the Nation to transfer ownership of the Ponca City Osage Casino sewer project to the city which will manage the sewer infrastructure for the hotel/casino under construction. Currently a retention pond serves the area surrounding the casino and McCord.

According to the resolution and agreement, the Nation agreed to obtain sewage services from Ponca City and built a lift station on the east side of the Arkansas River to connect to the city’s sewer infrastructure. The lift station sits on less than half an acre (.46) and city and Nation officials signed the agreement in August 2009, which was amended in December 2011. The resolution passed April 5 with an 8-2 vote with “no” votes from Congressmen Geoffrey Standing Bear and William “Kugee” Supernaw and absences from Edwards and Congressman John Jech.

ONCR 13-07: A resolution sponsored by Congressman Daniel Boone to adopt a format for appropriation bills for the 2014 fiscal year. The appropriation legislation will be categorized as follows: Departments/programs by division; Judicial Branch; Office of the Principal Chief; Legislative Branch; Office of the Attorney General and Boards/committees/commissions. The resolution passed April 5 with a 10-0 vote.

Day 12 of the Hun-Kah Session is Monday April 8.