OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The battle between Gov. Kevin Stitt and Native American Tribes continues. This time the Governor is using his veto stamp to shoot down a bill supporters say is a cooperative effort between tribes and state law enforcement.
The battle between Stitt and the Tribes has been well documented starting with disagreements over tribal gaming compacts extending into disputes over the McGirt Supreme Court decision. Now, there is a veto of a bill supporters call a cooperative effort between the state and the tribes.
“We need government, state and tribal to come together and work for the people for all of the people,” said Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane.
One of the authors of HB 3501 says the legislation was created to make it easier for state and tribal law enforcement to work together. It’s a bill that would require the Department of Public Safety to recognize any traffic crime conviction in tribal court on the same level as those in Oklahoma courts.
“No matter whose jurisdiction, DUI and those serious type activities that can be enforced and the drivers license suspended on either side,” said Kirke Kickingbird, Tribal Law Attorney.
On Monday, Stitt vetoed the bill calling it a “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” going on to say, “It would essentially require the State to carry out tribal court adjudications, no questions asked.”
On Monday, Choctaw Chief Gary Batton issued a statement, saying, “The governor’s petty decision to block enhanced coordination between criminal justice systems does nothing but hurt public safety.”
The Intertribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes issued the following joint statement Tuesday:
“It’s unfortunate the governor vetoed the public safety bill, which is an opportunity to keep unsafe drivers off Oklahoma’s roads through sharing information,” leaders of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Tribes said in a statement. “Our Five Tribes are committed to upholding public safety and we welcome opportunities to collaborate and work together to solve the important public safety challenges ahead of us all, but yet again, our governor continues to be uncooperative and unwilling. This bill, with language provided by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, and overwhelming support by the legislature, will keep drivers, citizens and communities safe for all four million Oklahomans in our state. Hopefully, the Oklahoma legislature will override Governor Stitt’s destructive veto.”INTERTRIBAL COUNCIL OF THE FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES
In his veto, Stitt called for renewed talks with tribal leaders instead of making what he calls “aggressive efforts to strip the state of its established authority to prosecute, tax and regulate all 4 million Oklahomans.”
“I think he is fixated on the McGirt decision and, instead of looking for cooperation, he is looking to denounce the tribes,” said Kickingbird.
State Rep. Humphrey says he understands the issues the governor has with the McGirt decisions but…
“We have to start saying that this is not about the Supreme Court, it’s not about state government, it’s not about tribal government, it’s about we the people,” said Humphrey.
If you combined the State House and Senate votes, the measure passed 113-4. Both authors we talked to said they would be in favor of a veto override vote but wouldn’t say 100 percent that one would happen.