OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt holds a news conference regarding the Tribal Compacts.
Recently, lawmakers in the House have voted to override Governor Stitt’s veto regarding shared motor vehicle tax revenue with Tribal nations.
Overriding the veto completely would extend the compact with the Tribes for another year.
Governor Stitt vetoed House Bill 1005x saying the bill, “amounts to a circumvention of the executive’s authority to negotiate compacts and because it is not in the State’s best interests, I must veto it.”
Stitt also called into question the constitutionality of the Legislature’s special session.
Before it is officially overridden, the Senate will need to vote.
Another Tribal compact bill was vetoed by the Governor. Senate Bill 26x is about shared revenue over tobacco taxes.
Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat tweeted that they will be back for overrides on June 26.
Once that happens, the House can come back for one day to complete their work, according to House Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-OKC.
The Governor is asking the legislature to not override the vetoes.
He says he offered the Tribes an Compact that was fair.
“If you want to expand the definition of potentially where the state would be obligated to pay compact fees for any gas station owned in eastern Oklahoma outside the trust land, then override the veto. But if you think it should be limited to trust land only, then you should not override this veto,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt.
“I don’t begrudge the tribes. This isn’t Kevin Stitt vs. the tribes. The governor vs. the tribes. I have to think about what’s best for all 4 million Oklahomans. That’s who I’m elected to protect. And I don’t even begrudge them for arguing what’s better for them,”said Stitt.
The Cherokee Nation Tweeted this prior to the news conference.
“Gov. Stitt wasn’t here to help Oklahomans in need after severe storms, but rushed back to destroy tribal sovereignty.”
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. also released a statement after the conference.
Today we heard more threats from a governor who has refused to work on win-win solutions with tribes. The idea that the state would shut down services across eastern Oklahoma is offensive to all Oklahomans who live in Indian Country, whether they are tribal citizens or not.
Sadly, this is a familiar pattern from Governor Stitt. He always finds some reason to justify targeting Indian tribes, whether it’s canceling leases on state welcome centers operated by tribes, attempting to repeal the Indian Education Advisory Committee, or promoting bans of tribal regalia for tribal high school graduates, he always has some excuse to justify his position that no reasonable compromise with the sovereign tribal governments is possible.
It’s good that Oklahoma’s fate is not in Governor Stitt’s hands. The Oklahoma Senate has the power to overturn the Governor’s veto tomorrow, and send the message that in Oklahoma tribes and the state can find common ground. Oklahomans are fortunate to have elected leaders who know a good tribal-state deal when they see one – even if Governor Stitt can’t.Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton issued a statement following the conference.
Gov. Stitt’s efforts to pressure the Legislature into changing direction are unlikely to succeed. As he knows, significant majorities voted to extend tobacco and vehicle compacts. Lawmakers clearly understand letting these agreements lapse would cost the state millions of dollars in revenue. If the governor had been willing to work with tribes as equal parties we would not be at this impasse. Unfortunately, he remains unwilling to cooperate and do what is best for all Oklahomans.
The governor’s proposed compact to the Choctaw Nation included language allowing the state to terminate the agreement at any time. This is not acceptable.
We thank the Legislature for its diligent and important work, and we look forward to the Legislature overriding these vetoes so tribes and state government can continue to produce benefits for allChoctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton
This is a developing story.