New FOP law to be introduced just weeks after constitutional FOP fails in full council
By Angel Ellis, Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma– Just three weeks after a Freedom of Press [FOP] constitutional amendment ordinance that would allow the citizens of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation the opportunity to vote on press freedom was voted down 9-6in a Regular National Council meeting on Sept. 28, a new piece of legislation has showed up in Business, Finance and Justice [BFJ] committee.
MCN Principal Chief James Floyd is slated to introduce NCA 19-129 on Thursday night. According to the BF&J committee agenda, the first stop in the legislative process for becoming an adopted law, NC Speaker Lucian Tiger III is sponsoring the legislation. Representatives Adam Jones III, Darrell Proctor, and Joyce Deere are listed as co-sponsors for the legislation.
Jones, Proctor and Deere were three of the six that voted against constitutional free press protection in the Sept. 28 Regular Council meeting.
The legislation has some similarities to the old legislation NCA 15-218 that governed Mvskoke Media from 2015 to 2018.
The legislation would classify Mvskoke Media as an independent statutory agency with oversight provided by a board.
Much like the old legislation the board has direct oversight of the departments Director and policies.
MCN lawmakers would have the ability to repeal the bill in its entirety much like they did on Nov. 8, 2018.
The Native American Journalist Association [NAJA] issued a statement on their stance on the newly proposed legislation.
‘NAJA still supports a constitutional amendment like the one proposed in NCA 19-121, to allow the potential protection of a citizen vote for any future changes or repeals as opposed to another bill that can be changed or overturned,’ the statement said.
NAJA went on to examine the board structure, an integral part of protecting journalist from influence.
‘Under the original bill passed in 2015, the department nominee [to the board] still required legislative confirmation and this structure was also somewhat unbalanced in favor of the government with two-to-one government to department seats,’ the NAJA statement said. ‘The leadership structure in the new bill NCA 19-129 would maintain the elimination of Mvskoke Media’s board nominee, and expand the number of seats from three to five. Even with the ethical requirements for the positions, there is still a need for a balance that includes the department’s direct say on the governing body.’
NAJA also voiced concerns on the qualifications of the department leadership.
‘Moving down the chain of command, NCA 19-129 does not set forth any direct requirements for the manager (now listed as director in the bill), including citizenship or any direct ethical parameters,’ the statement said. ‘Direct qualifications should be set forth for the most important day-to-day leader of the department.’
The new legislation retained some language of the “Shield Act” which focused on protecting the sources journalist rely on to report news.
Mvskoke Media reached out for comment from the Principal Chief Floyd and National Council Speaker Lucian Tiger.
Chief Floyd issued a statement on the reason behind the new legislation proposal.
‘The Executive Branch supports NCA 19-129,’ Floyd said in a statement. ‘This bill is meant to give Muscogee (Creek) Nation free press a solid foundation by restoring Mvskoke Media to an independent agency and augmenting the Shield Act.’
Floyd explained the idea behind the expansion of the editorial board.
‘This proposed legislation includes additions to the editorial board,’ Floyd said in a statement. ‘By increasing the number of board members, we expand the pool of knowledge and experience for the benefit of Mvskoke Media, which is why the requirements include a legal, journalism or financial background.’
National Council Speaker Lucian Tiger had not responded to request for comment at time of press.
Read the proposed Mvskoke Media “Free Press” law here.