The Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate met in a special session Monday and overrode GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt’s vetoes of two bills to extend existing agreements with Native American tribes for another year.
The overrides were the latest development in an ongoing dispute between Stitt and several Oklahoma-based tribes. Stitt, himself a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, wants to renegotiate tribal compacts on the sale of tobacco products and the issuance of motor vehicle tags by tribes.
Several of the state’s most powerful tribal leaders were in the gallery during Monday’s debate and praised the Senate for overriding the governor’s vetoes.
Stitt has raised concerns that the existing compact language needs to be rewritten in light of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2020 that led to the reservation boundaries of several Oklahoma-based tribes being upheld.
“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,” Stitt said in a statement.
The two bills he vetoed would extend those compacts for another year. Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat said he wants to give the governor more time to renegotiate the terms of the deal and has been openly critical of Stitt’s disputes with the tribes. Treat also said he would consider changing state law to give the Legislature a greater role in compact negotiations if the governor doesn’t negotiate in good faith.
The bill to extend the compact over the sale of tobacco still must be overridden by the House, which is expected to meet July 31.