OKLAHOMA CITY (OBV) – An attempt to override Gov. Kevin Stitt’s veto of legislation that would have extended the state’s tobacco compacts with Native American tribes failed by a single vote.
The State Senate voted 31-8 in favor of extending the tribal compacts, falling one vote short of the necessary two-thirds majority to override Stitt’s veto of Senate Bill 26X, which would have extended the compacts one year.
“I am pleased by the Senate’s vote to sustain my veto of the Tobacco Compact extension and I believe that today’s outcome underscores the state’s commitment to negotiating compacts in good faith, that are beneficial to all parties involved,” said Stitt. “My original compact offer—to extend the compacts previously negotiated and entered by Oklahoma’s Governor and tribal counterparts—is still on the table for each tribe that has reached out and remains available to those that have not yet. I look forward to continuing to work with them to reach an agreement.”
House Minority Leader Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, said not extending the tobacco compacts will cost taxpayers and reduce revenues.
“It is deeply concerning to hear the Governor’s veto of SB26X was sustained especially since significant majorities in both chambers of the legislature continue to vote to extend tribal compacts and avoid leaving Oklahoma taxpayers on the hook for expensive lawsuits dragging on for years,” Munson said.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted earlier in June to extend tribal compacts in HB1005X, overriding a Stitt veto that would have required tribes to re-negotiate vehicle registration compacts.
HB1005X has yet to go before the Senate.
“If the Governor’s vetoes of SB26X and HB1005X are not overridden, there will be a decrease in state revenue and taxpayers will have to pay expensive legal fees. Extending the compacts will provide important benefits for Oklahomans and allow the state and tribal nations to continue to successfully work together as we have prior to this Governor’s administration,” Munson said.
Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, is expected to make another attempt at overriding Stitt’s veto of SB 26X.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. issued the following statement on the close vote that failed to override the veto:
“I’m disappointed that the State Senate fell one vote short of the two thirds majority to override Governor Stitt’s veto and extend the tribal tobacco compact. A strong majority in both chambers of the Legislature understand the need to extend the tobacco and car tag compacts, which reflect their strong support across the state. The Senate did not take up the car tag compact override. Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat promised to take the tobacco override up again, and with all Senators in attendance, we believe there are sufficient votes to override the vetoes on the tobacco and car tag compact extension bills. Cherokee Nation will continue to advocate for the veto overrides, which will prevent disruption to the economy as we work together for a longer-term solution. For the good of all Cherokees and Oklahomans, I urge Governor Stitt to negotiate in good faith for that solution. Cherokee Nation remains open to finding win-win solutions as long as they respect our tribal sovereignty.”Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton issued the following statement criticizing Stitt for not working with Oklahoma’s tribal nations:
“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,” Batton said. “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 all.”Chief Gary Batton