Oklahoma Democratic leader calls for museum vote

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 10, 2014 at 4:41 pm •  Published: April 10, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma House's top Democrat on Thursday called on the chamber's Republican leaders to schedule a vote on whether to provide funding to complete the American Indian Cultural Center & Museum in Oklahoma City.

House Democratic Leader Scott Inman of Oklahoma City urged the full House to take action a day after the House Appropriations and Budget Committee approved a plan to take $40 million from the Unclaimed Property Fund to complete the unfinished structure.

"We believe it deserves a vote on the House floor," Inman said. But Republican House Speaker Jeff Hickman of Fairview has said he wants 51 of the House's 72 Republicans to support the Senate-passed measure before it would be scheduled for a vote in the House.

"That is an unreasonable bar," Inman said. The House's 29 Democrats support the bill, but many GOP conservatives in the House are opposed. The House committee passed the measure 16-10 Wednesday evening with Republicans casting all of the no votes.

Hickman said it is not uncommon for members of the House's majority caucus to determine the level of support legislation has among Republicans before it is brought to a vote. And some members of his caucus believe other spending priorities should be dealt with before taxpayer dollars are spent on completing the museum.

"Our caucus doesn't believe the timing is right to do that," Hickman said. "Everyone believes we have to do something. We're still continuing to work on plans and alternatives."

The proposal to tap $40 million from the Unclaimed Property Fund would be matched by another $40 million in pledges from Oklahoma's 39 federally recognized tribes, the city of Oklahoma City and donations from various private and corporate donors.