OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall have filed their response to Governor Kevin Stitt’s lawsuit over the Legislature’s override of his tribal compact vetoes.
Both vetoes were overridden by the end of July.
Hours later, Stitt announced he would be suing the two chambers’ leaders for what he says was an overreach of their authority, saying negotiations surrounding compacts should be left up to him and not the Legislature.
“We need the Supreme Court to let us know who has the authority. We think that it clearly is with the governor,” said Gov. Stitt.
Now, Sen. Treat and Rep. McCall have responded to the suit, saying “this case represents the efforts of an Executive who is, once again, dissatisfied with the limited nature of his power under the Oklahoma Constitution.”
Indeed, the legislative acts at issue (SB 26x and HB 1005x) would not have been necessary if the Governor was able to put aside his personal vitriol toward tribal nations and negotiate compacts that are in the best interests of the State. But when the Legislature is confronted with a Governor who refuses to put the State’s interests before his own – invariably costing the state tens of millions of dollars over the upcoming fiscal years – it is wholly within its purview to authorize those extensions by statute.Legislature response
The legislative leaders argue the Governor does not have exclusive authority to negotiate compacts, especially when they impact the state’s revenue, and the issues presented by the Governor have already been decided in court.
In 2020, the Oklahoma Supreme Court determined Stitt did not have the authority to make new tribal gaming compacts with the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation through the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The high court said while he can negotiate tribal gaming compacts, he must do so within the bounds of the State-Tribal Gaming Act.
A federal lawsuit over those compacts is currently pending in the U.S. District of Columbia District Court.
The next year, the State Supreme Court once again decided Stitt overstepped his authority for his compacts with the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Kialegee Tribal Town because he negotiated different terms than those included in a model gaming compact approved by voters in 2004 and without approval of a joint legislative committee.
Although the Governor may not be cast in the ‘starring role’ that he so desires, he remains free to negotiate compacts, so long as those compacts are in conformance with statute…
…But when the Governor either refuses or is incapable of engaging in productive compact discussions, the Legislature is free to act to protect the State’s interests.
Oklahoma citizens should not once again be asked to foot the bill for a Governor who clearly has no desire to put the State’s interests above his personal vendettas.Legislature response
Read the full response below: