Oklahoma Senate Overrides Gov. Stitt’s Vetoes On Tribal Compact Bills

The Oklahoma Senate was back at the state Capitol Monday for a special session. They voted 34-7 to override the governor’s veto on two tribal compact bills.

Monday, July 24th 2023, 6:14 pm



The Oklahoma Senate was back at the state Capitol Monday for a special session. They voted 34-7 to override the governor’s veto on two tribal compact bills.

RELATED: Oklahoma Lawmakers Return To Capitol For Special Session On Tribal Compacts

This was the Senate’s second time voting on the override of two tribal compact bills. They came in last month and fell short of the override by one vote.

“Affirming the sovereignty of the 39 federally recognized tribes to tax their citizens in cooperation with the state of Oklahoma,” Sen. Mary Boren, (D) Norman, said.

The compacts determine how the state and tribes share revenue from taxes on tobacco sales and motor vehicles.

“$57 million is roughly what the state receives on these tobacco compacts, so this is unequivocally a budget related issue,” Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat said.

One of the no votes Senator Nathan Dahm said compact negotiations aren’t up to the legislature, they’re up to the governor.

“We cannot simply ignore the constitution, we cannot simply ignore the statute, we have to go about it the right way, i believe these bills are not going about it in a constitutional manner or a statutorily found and legal manner,” Sen. Nathan Dahm, (R ) Broken Arrow, said.

Gov. Stitt said in a statement : "The Senate has chosen to disregard the Governor's compact in favor of compact language the tribes wanted.”

“I'd call this almost a probationary period to see if he can act in good faith and get true negotiations going,” Treat said.

Treat said this will simply give the governor another year to negotiate a new deal with the tribes.

“Some of these tribal motor vehicle compacts expire in two weeks so timing is critical,” Treat said.

“We need to ask all of the tribes very respectfully, go back to the negotiating table, ask the governor, go back to the negotiating table,” Sen. Shane Jett, (R ) Shawnee, said.

The Choctaw and Cherokee nations both responded to Monday’s override, saying in statements they’re looking forward to continued negotiations on the compacts.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. called this move “a great step forward in preserving carefully negotiated compact agreements that have served both Oklahoma and Cherokee Nation well for decades.”

Choctaw Chief Garry Batton said in a statement: “All Oklahomans benefit from fair agreements between tribes and state government, and we look forward to continuing our partnerships,” 

“My hope would be that we can get earnest negotiations started rapidly,” Treat said.

The motor vehicle compact is now law, and the house will come back Monday to vote on the veto override of the tobacco compact. 

Full statement from Governor Kevin Stitt: 

"Despite real concerns for the future of our state, the Senate has chosen to disregard the Governor's compact in favor of compact language the tribes wanted. I am trying to protect eastern Oklahoma from turning into a reservation, and I've been working to ensure these compacts are the best deal for all four million Oklahomans. Unfortunately, the Senate seems to disagree and used an illegitimate process to do so.”

Full statement from Choctaw Nation: 

"Despite real concerns for the future of our state, the Senate has chosen to disregard the Governor's compact in favor of compact language the tribes wanted. I am trying to protect eastern Oklahoma from turning into a reservation, and I've been working to ensure these compacts are the best deal for all four million Oklahomans. Unfortunately, the Senate seems to disagree and used an illegitimate process to do so.”
“Despite Gov. Stitt’s attempts to muddy the waters, the Oklahoma Senate did the right thing today by overriding his veto of compacts regarding tobacco sales and motor vehicle tags. These important agreements provide massive benefits for tribes and all Oklahomans, and we thank the Legislature for doing what is right,” Batton said. “The Choctaw Nation remains open to negotiating on long-term compacts, and we trust good-faith discussions will start soon.”  
“All Oklahomans benefit from fair agreements between tribes and state government, and we look forward to continuing our partnerships,” Batton said. 

Full statement from Cherokee Nation: 

“Today is a great step forward in preserving carefully negotiated compact agreements that have served both Oklahoma and Cherokee Nation well for decades. The bipartisan supermajority of Senators who voted to extend our tribal-state compacts, overriding the Governor’s veto, also saw this need, and I thank them for their support. This vote shows once again that the Governor is isolated in his choice of conflict over cooperation with tribes. The Cherokee Nation is ready to continue working with any and all good-faith partners in the state who respect our sovereignty. I urge the Oklahoma House to return swiftly to complete the veto overrides. They can quickly end the troubling uncertainty these vetoes have caused for Oklahoma citizens and businesses.”
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