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Okla. Senate Votes to Abolish Indian Affairs Panel (May 20, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A bill to abolish Oklahoma's Indian Affairs Commission and transfer its power to a liaison position in the governor's office has received final legislative approval over the objections of some Democrats who say it sends a bad message to the state's Native American tribes.

The Senate voted 26-18 on Friday for the bill that creates the Native American Liaison. The liaison would be appointed by the governor.

Senate sponsor Sen. Clark Jolley says the goal is to elevate the status of Native Americans in the state by providing them with a direct contact in the governor's office. But Senate Democratic leader Sen. Andrew Rice says the bill is an example of Republicans trying to consolidate power.

The Indian Affairs Commission was established in 1967 and receives about $200,000 annually.

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