Oklahoma's Power Brokers: The 26 Natives Holding State Positions

Brian Daffron
7/18/13

 

The Oklahoma State Capitol pays artistic homage to the state's Native past and present throughout its halls and among its architecture. Sac & Fox athlete Jim Thorpe stands tall in the Rotunda. Cherokee humorist Will Rogers is ready to crack a joke about the Mayflower to those who walk by his painting. Oklahoma's Native prima ballerinas are ready to perform. Atop the Rotunda, the Guardian—a sculpture made by former state senator and Seminole Nation member Enoch Kelly Haney—can be seen for miles in Oklahoma City. Even within the state seal rests symbols that are representative of the "Five Civilized Tribes" that made up the original boundaries of Indian Territory.

Beyond the art and the symbolism, however, the greater need for members of Oklahoma's 39 tribes is to have representation on the state level. According to Indian Country Today Media Network's research, there are five elected state senators out of a membership of 48 who are Native. On the House of Representatives side, there are at least 26 members out of 101 who participate in its bipartisan Native American Caucus. Out of those 26 members, 16 elected representatives have submitted a copy of their tribal enrollment card to the caucus leadership. Of the two most powerful positions—Senate President Pro Tempore and House Speaker—both are held by Native people.

The Oklahoma State Senate

Among the five Native members of the Oklahoma State Senate, each of them are in leadership positions. These range from President Pro Tempore to Minority Whip.

Brian Bingman (R) – Oklahoma President Pro Tempore of the Senate

Tribal Affiliation: Creek Nation

Senate District: 12

Years in Office: 2006-Present

Previous Offices: Oklahoma House of Representatives, 2004-2006; Mayor of Sapulpa, Oklahoma 1992-2004

Committees: As President Pro Tempore, Bingman serves as ex-officio and as a voting member of all Senate committees.

Key Legislation: Co-Author of Shale Oil Development Act; Resolution commending the Cherokee Nation; CompSource Mutual Insurance Company Act; Administrative Workers Compensation Act; Law changing protective orders; bill requiring schools to report discovery of firearms; Oklahoma General Corporation Act; Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program Act; Oklahoma Hospital Residency Training Program Act; Oklahoma Energy Initiative; State Senate Redistricting Act of 2011; State Government Administrative Process Consolidation and Reform Act; State House of Representatives Redistricting Act; Oklahoma Pension Actuarial Analysis Act; Oklahoma Municipal Independence Act.

David Holt (R) – Majority Whip

Tribal Affiliation: Osage

Senate District: 30

Years in Office: 2010-Present

Committees: Vice-Chair of Appropriations Subcommittee on Select Agencies; Education; Judiciary; Appropriations; Public Safety

Key Legislation: Bill providing for remediation and intervention for students who fail end-of-instruction requirements; creation of tax credit for owners of property or homes destroyed in 2012 or 2013 natural disasters; Post conviction DNA Act; Creation of the Emergency Drought Relief System Fund; creation of the Children with Disabilities Comprehensive System of Services Revolving Fund; Oklahoma Disaster Relief Materials Price Stabilization Fund; Resolution honoring the life and accomplishments of Maria Tallchief; Administrative Workers Compensation Act; Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act; Concurrent resolution supporting Keystone XL pipeline project; establishment of Foster Care System Improvement Task Force.

Sean Burrage (D)  – Democratic (Minority) Leader

Tribal Affiliation: Choctaw

Senate District:2

Years in Office: 2006-Present

Committees: No current committees listed. Former member of the Joint Committee on Tribal-State Relations.

Key Legislation: Bill allowing of reading proficiency tests from other states; Oklahoma Personnel Act; Local Law Enforcement Mental Health Manpower Act; bill requiring contractors to show proof of documentation; Oklahoma Horse Racing Act; Patriot Guard Funeral Procession Act; Oklahoma Trust Act; Resolution recognizing Cherokee Nation Legislative Day; Judge Gary Dean Courtroom Technology Act; Oklahoma Accountability Act; Livestock Owner's Lien Act.

John Sparks  – Assistant Democratic (Minority) Leader

Tribal Affiliation: Cherokee Nation

Senate District: 16

Years in Office: 2006-Present

Committees: Vice-Chair of Insurance; Appropriations Subcommittee on Education; Education; Finance; Rules; Veterans and Military Affairs.

Key Legislation: Bill establishing Quick-Action Closing Fund; bill establishing expansion of volunteer firefighters.

Al McAffrey – Democratic (Minority) Whip

Tribal Affiliation: Choctaw Nation

Senate District: 46

Years in Office: 2012-Present

Former Offices: Oklahoma House of Representatives, 2006-2012

Committees: Appropriation Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary; Finance; Public Safety; Rules; Transportation.

Key Legislation: Re-appropriation of monies from Oklahoma Health Care Authority to Oklahoma State University Medical Authority Disbursing Fund; constitutional amendment expanding property tax exemption.

Oklahoma House of Representatives

Native American representation within the House of Representatives became a stronger force with the formation of the bipartisan Native American Caucus in 2006. Consisting of two members serving as chair, the caucus meets the third Tuesday of each month during the legislative session. (Note: ICTMN will focus on those who have their tribal enrollment card on file with the Native American Caucus).

T.W. Shannon (R) – House Speaker

Tribal Affiliation: Chickasaw Nation

House District: 62

Years in Office: 2007-Present

Committees: Serves as Ex-Officio voting member on all house committees.

Key Legislation: Bill prohibiting State of Oklahoma from incurring excessive debt obligations; creation of a public service campaign to promote marriage as a tool against poverty; Administrative Workers Compensation Act; bill requiring employment for food stamp eligibility; Requirement of schools to report discovery of firearms; Petroleum Storage Tank Indemnity Fund; Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety Fund; Oklahoma Riot Control and Prevention Act; Long Range Capital Planning Commission; Maintenance of State Buildings Revolving Fund; Oklahoma State Government Asset Reduction and Cost Savings Program.

Anastasia Pittman

Tribal Affiliation: Seminole Nation

House District: 99

Years in Office: 2007-Present

Committees: Native American Caucus Chair; Vice-Chair of Conference Committee on Human Services; Vice-Chair of Human Services; Appropriations & Budget—Higher Education; Appropriations & Budget--Human Services; Conference Committee on Tourism and International Relations; Tourism and International Relations.

Key Legislation: Increased rebate funds for film industry; campaign finance restrictions.

Chuck Hoskin (D) – Minority Whip

Tribal Affiliation: Cherokee Nation

House District: 6

Years in Office: 2007-Present

Former Service: Cherokee Nation Tribal Council

Committees: Appropriations and Budget; Calendar; Conference Committee on Public Safety; Conference Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs; General Conference Committee on Appropriations; Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget; Public Safety; Veterans and Military Affairs.

Key Legislation: Co-Sponsoring of Campaign Finance Restrictions; bill allowing for submission of reading proficiency tests from other states; Oklahoma Personnel Act; resolution recognizing value of nationally board certified teachers.

Cory Williams (D) – Assistant Minority Whip

Tribal Affiliation: Cherokee

House District: 34

Years in Office: 2009-Present

Committees: Tax Credit & Economic Incentive Oversight Committee; Appropriations and Budget—Career Tech; Conference Committee on Higher Education and CareerTech; Conference Committee on Judiciary.

Key Legislation: Repeal of Grocery Sales Tax

Dan Kirby (R)

Tribal Affiliation: Muscogee Creek Nation

House District: 75

Years in Office: 2009-Present

Committees: Native American Caucus Co-Chair; Chair, Conference Committee on Insurance; Chair, Insurance; Appropriations & Budget—Judiciary; Appropriations & Budget—Revenue and Tax; Conference Committee on Energy and Aerospace; Energy and Aerospace.

Key Legislation: None shown passed into law.

Doug Cox (R)

Tribal Affiliation: Muscogee Creek Nation

House District: 5

Years in Office: 2005-Present

Committees: Chair, Appropriations & Budget—Public Health and Social Services; Appropriations & Budget; Common Education; Conference Committee on Common Education; Conference Committee on Public Health; General Conference Committee on Appropriations; Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget; Public Health.

Key Legislation: Amendment of State Worker's Compensation; Medicaid Reform Act of 2006.

Jerry McPeak (D) – Minority Caucus Chair

Tribal Affiliation: Muscogee Creek Nation

House District: 13

Years in Office: 2005-Present

Committees: Appropriations & Budget; Conference Committee on Energy and Aerospace; Conference Committee on Transportation; Energy and Aerospace; General Conference Committee on Appropriations; Joint Committee on Appropriations & Budget; Transportation

Key Legislation: Joint Resolution approving permanent rules to State Board of Cosmetology.

Jerry Shoemake (D)

Tribal Affiliation: Cherokee

House District: 16

Years in Office: 2005-Present

Committees: Agriculture and Wildlife; Appropriations & Budget—Natural Resources and Regulatory Services; Appropriations & Budget—Non-Appropriated; Conference Committee on Agriculture and Wildlife; Conference Committee on General Government; General Government.

Key Legislation: Bill allowing for extra space on driver's licenses and vehicle tags.

Larry Glenn (D)

Tribal Affiliation: Cherokee

House District: 7

Years in Office: 2005-Present

Committees: Appropriations & Budget—CareerTech; Appropriations & Budget—Non-Appropriated; Appropriations & Budget—Public Safety.

Key Legislation: Campaign Finance Restrictions; bill regarding Superfund sites; identification of fish taken by noodling; bill regarding undersheriffs; laws regarding indecent exposure.

Lisa J. Billy – Assistant Majority Whip

Tribal Affiliation: Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations

House District: 42

Years in Office: 2005-Present

Committees: Chair, Appropriation & Budget—Higher Education; Appropriations & Budget; Appropriations & Budget—Public Safety; Conference Committee on Energy & Aerospace; Energy & Aerospace; General Conference Committee on Appropriations; Joint Committee on Appropriations & Budget.

Key Legislation: Increase of Driver's License Fees; Bill on Abortion Restrictions; Abortion Regulations; Definitions of peace officer legislation; regulations of Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training; restriction of manufactured home park dealer licenses; motorcycle license waivers and regulations; exceptions to regulation of certain radiation sources; prison and reformatory regulations.

Mike Christian (R)

Tribal Affiliation: Choctaw

House District: 93

Years in Office: 2009-Present

Committees: Chair, Appropriations & Budget General Government; Appropriations & Budget; Conference Committee on Public Safety; Conference Committee on Utility and Environmental Regulation; General Conference Committee on Appropriations; Joint Committee on Appropriations & Budget; Public Safety; Utility & Environmental Regulation.

Key Legislation: Requirement of Parental Consent with an ID Prior to an Abortion by a Minor; Bill on Abortion Restrictions; Prohibition of Sharia Law and International Law in State Courts.

Paul Wesselhoft (R) – Assistant Majority Floor Leader

Tribal Affiliation: Citizen Potawatomi Nation

House District: 54

Years in Office: 2005-Present

Committees: Chair, Conference Committee on General Government; Chair, General Government; Appropriations & Budget; Conference Committee on Energy & Aerospace; Conference Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs; Energy & Aerospace; General Conference Committee on Appropriations; Joint Committee on Appropriations & Budget; Veterans and Military Affairs.

Key Legislation: Allowance of Health Services Employees to Refuse Participation in Abortion; Regulation of Attorney Election Contributions; Death Penalty for Second Offender Sex Offenders.

Seneca Scott (D)

Tribal Affiliation: Choctaw Nation

House District: 72

Years in Office: 2009-Present

Committees: Appropriations & Budget—Transportation; Conference Committee on Energy & Aerospace; Conference Committee on Government Modernization; Conference Committee on Utility and Environmental Regulation; Energy & Aerospace; Government Modernization; Utility and Environmental Regulation.

Key Legislation: Increase of Rebate Funds for Film Industry; Repeal of Grocery Sales Tax; expanding of municipal power in code enforcement regulations.

Skye McNiel (R)

Tribal Affiliation: Muscogee Creek Nation

House District: 29

Years in Office: 2007-Present

Committees: Chair, Appropriations & Budget—CareerTech; Appropriations & Budget; Calendar; Conference Committee on Economic Development and Financial Services; General Conference Committee on Appropriations; Human Services; Joint Committee on Appropriations & Budget.

Key Legislation: Abortion Regulations; Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program Act; Oklahoma Recycling Initiative; Oklahoma Community Pooled Finance Act; Modification of horsement regulations; disclosure of nursing homes not having emergency power generators; Oklahoma Quick-Action Closing Fund; Oklahoma Private Lands and Public Recreation Act.

Steve Martin (R)

Tribal Affiliation: Cherokee Nation

House District: 10

Years in Office: 2005-Present

Committees: Chair, Conference Committee on Public Safety; Chair, Public Safety; Appropriations & Budget—Revenue & Tax; Conference Committee on Energy & Aerospace; Conference Committee on Judiciary; Energy & Aerospace; Judiciary.

Key Legislation: Amendment to State Worker's Compensation; Open Carry of Firearms; Repeal of collective bargaining requirement for cities; voter identification; state immigration reform; Medicaid Reform Act of 2006.

William Fourkiller (D)

Tribal Affiliation: Cherokee Nation

House District: 86

Years in Office: 2011-Present

Committees: Administration Rules, Government Oversight and Repealer; Appropriations & Budget—General Government; Appropriations & Budget--Public Health & Social Services; Conference Committee on Administrative Rules, Government Oversight & Repealer; Conference Committee on Long-term Care and Senior Services; Long-term Care & Senior Services.

Key Legislation: Epinephrine pens at schools; concurrent resolution celebrating life and achievements of Maria Tallchief; concurrent resolution on breast cancer awareness; concurrent resolution on contributions of women in nation's history.

Source: okhouse.gov, oksenate.gov, openstates.org, and votesmart.org. The majority of the "Key Legislation" information in openstates.org only encompasses the past two years

Bobby Cleveland (R)

Tribal Affiliation: Choctaw Nation

House District: 20

Years in Office: 2013

Committees: Vice-Chair, Appropriations & Budget--Public Safety; Appropriations & Budget--General Government; Conference Committee on Economic Development and Financial Services; Conference Committee on Tourism and International Relations; Economic Development and Financial Services; Tourism and International Relations.

Key Legislation: Confidentiality of child welfare case records; legislation on petroleum storage tanks; transfer of title from excise tax levy exemptions; Oklahoma Volunteer Firefighters Act; Resolution upholding federal Defense of Marriage Act.

 

Fred Jordan (R)—Majority Leader

Tribal Affiliation: Cherokee Nation

House District: 69

Years in Office: 2007-Present

Committees: Appropriations & Budget--Judiciary; Appropriations & Budget--Non-Appropriated; Calendar; Conference Committee on Judiciary; Conference Committee on Public Safety; Judiciary; Public Safety.

Key Legislation: No major legislation signed into law.

 

Jason Smalley (R)

Tribal Affiliation: Citizen Band Potawatomi

House District: 32

Years in Office: 2013

Committees: Vice-Chair, Appropriations & Budget--Transportation; Appropriations & Budget--Revenue and Tax; Calendar; Common Education; Conference Committee on Common Education; Conference Committee on Government Modernization; Government Modernization

Key Legislation: Increase of rebate funds for film industry.

 

Justin Wood (R)

Tribal Affiliation: Sac and Fox Nation

House District: 26

Years in Office: 2013

Committees: Vice-Chair, Conference Committee on Higher Education and CareerTech; Vice-Chair, Higher Education and CareerTech; Appropriations & Budget--CareerTech; Conference Committee on General Government; Conference Committee on Government Modernization; General Government; Government Modernization

Key Legislation: State agency consolidation; increase of rebate funds for film industry.

 

Katie Henke (R)

Tribal Affiliation: Cherokee Nation

House District: 71

Years in Office: 2013

Committees: Vice-Chair, Appropriations & Budget--Common Education; Conference Committee on Economic Development and Financial Services; Conference Committee on Tourism and International Relations; Conference Committee on Transporation; Economic Development and Financial Services; Tourism and International Relations; Transportation

Key Legislation: Crime and punishment legislation.

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page