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AM NewsBrief: Jan. 3, 2023

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This is the AM NewsBrief for Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.

New laws in Oklahoma

It’s 2023 and, as Oklahomans rang in the new year over the weekend, eight Bills went into effect. The biggest changes come from only three.  

The Oklahoma Inform Act requires online stores verify the authenticity of third party sellers they use to protect consumers from fraud and limit the sale of stolen goods. Republican Senator Julie Daniels says the hope is it will help to legitimize online businesses.  

House Bill 1933 cuts the duration of unemployment from 26 weeks to 16 weeks with the goal being to address workforce shortages.   

Lastly, House Bill 3365 deals with elections. The law changes many aspects of voter registration and verification. For instance, voter registration could be canceled if a voter is issued a license in another state and voters living in a house with at least four other registered voters must verify their address in writing.  

Democrats like Regina Goodwin are concerned the law limits voting access for Oklahomans but the bill’s co-author, Republican Sean Roberts, argues there is no language that prohibits people from voting. The next legislative session starts next month.

IHS funding

Last week, President Biden signed a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill. It will provide aid for Ukraine, disaster recovery and advanced funding for Indian Health Service.

Don't get sick in June—that's a dark joke that's been floating around Indian Country for years. But it has a ring of truth: that's because Indian Health Service typically runs out of funding towards the end of the fiscal year in June.

Advanced appropriations of $5 billion will provide a crucial funding bridge between budget impasses that often leave the 2.5 million American Indians and Alaska Natives that rely on the service in dire straits. 

Tribal Nations have been advocating for advanced appropriations for years saying short term funding creates uncertainty for tribal citizens.

New executive director for Cherokee Nation housing program

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. named a new executive director for the tribal nation's housing program.

Todd Enlow has worked for the Cherokee Nation for more than 23 years. During the pandemic, he oversaw some of the tribal nation's COVID-19 response programs. But, starting this month, Enlow will oversee the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation in his new role and will also serve as Hoskin's senior advisor.

In 2019, Cherokee Nation council passed the Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act. It provided more than $30 million for housing investment for tribal citizens. Enlow will oversee programs for those in need of affordable housing and the tribal nation's elderly.

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