Oklahoma Senate: Oklahoma Senate, under the sway of the Republican dominion, convened in a special session, resolutely defying the vetoes of Governor Kevin Stitt, and thereby embracing two bills that would effectively protract existing pacts with Native American tribes for an additional year.
This latest turn of events emerges amidst an entrenched conflict between Governor Stitt and several Oklahoma-based tribes. It is imperative to note that the Governor himself holds citizenship within the esteemed Cherokee Nation. His fervent desire to reopen negotiations pertaining to tribal compacts concerning the sale of tobacco products and the issuance of motor vehicle tags by tribes has escalated tensions within the state.
During the heated debate that ensued on Monday, a number of the state’s most influential tribal leaders were present in the gallery, ardently commending the Senate for their resolute stance in overriding the Governor’s vetoes.
Governor Stitt has voiced his concerns over the need to revamp the existing compact verbiage, citing the groundbreaking ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020, which upheld the reservation boundaries of several Oklahoma-based tribes. His expressed objective is to safeguard eastern Oklahoma from transformation into a reservation and, moreover, to ensure that the compacts forged are equitable and beneficial to all four million Oklahomans.
The two bills, both of which were vetoed by the Governor, constitute extensions to these compacts for a further year. Nevertheless, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, staunchly critical of Governor Stitt’s disputes with the tribes, espouses a desire to grant the Governor more time to renegotiate the terms of the compact. However, should the Governor not approach negotiations in earnest, Treat has unequivocally articulated his contemplation of amending state legislation to endow the Legislature with a greater role in compact negotiations.
As the dust settles on this dramatic Senate decision, it is important to underscore that the bill pertaining to the extension of the tobacco sale compact still awaits endorsement by the House, with a scheduled meeting set for July 31st, which is poised to be a pivotal event in this ongoing tribal conflict.