Governor Kevin Stitt, in separate letters with United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB) Chief Joe Bunch and Kialegee Tribal Town (KTT) Mekko Stephanie Yahola, called on the Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, and House Speaker Charles McCall to convene to approve their agreed upon gaming compact.
“I’m proud of the compacts Chief Bunch, Mekko Yahola and I negotiated for Oklahoma, the UKB and the KTT,” said Governor Stitt. “These compacts are better for all Oklahomans, requiring a higher percentage of gaming revenue to be remanded to the state while opening up this industry to the UKB and the KTT. Additionally, these compacts reflect our good faith efforts and demonstrates our ability and willingness reach agreements with tribes. I look forward to continued collaboration with our tribal partners and I call on the Joint Committee to convene and promptly endorse the compact.”
The financial terms laid out in this compact are more favorable for the State of Oklahoma than gaming compacts that exist with other tribal governments. This compact also gives the UKB and KTT access to the gaming market that wasn’t previously available to them. Unlike the Legislature’s recent compact-related actions, the Legislature’s involvement here is sanctioned by statute and consistent with the Supreme Court’s Treat opinions.
This action is endorsed by multiple members of the Legislature.
Representative Gann (R-Inola): “I applaud the Governor’s decision to submit this agreement to the Joint Committee. Oklahomans know that the Legislature sets state policy by making laws, but the executive branch executes the laws legislators make. This compact, unlike the bills passed this summer, is a byproduct of a legitimate process in which the Governor negotiated a great compact for the state and stands in stark contrast to recent efforts by the Legislature to overthrow the Governor’s authority. We need to get back into our own sandbox and stop trying to renegotiate compacts through legislation that didn’t even address, much less amend, current law.”
Senator Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow): “The Joint Committee should approve the compact the Governor submitted for approval today. Under existing statute and precedent, it’s clear that the Governor is the proper party to compact on behalf of the state subject only to later consideration by the joint committee in certain circumstances. Other processes, like the one legislative leadership spearheaded this summer, conflict with existing law and should be rejected by the Supreme Court if a pillar of our form of government—the separation of powers—is to mean anything at all.”
Senator Warren Hamilton (R-McCurtain): “Today’s announcement about the compact Governor Stitt negotiated with the UKB shows that the Stitt administration is ready and able to reach agreements with tribes. It also runs counter to the narrative others have been telling all summer long and proves that what happened this summer was all backwards, at best. Rather than letting legal and longtime processes play out, the legislative body disregarded the law as it is and put the Legislature in the seat of the executive.”
Representative Olsen (R-Roland): “Today’s submission to the Joint Committee is consistent with Oklahoma law—that is, the Governor negotiates compacts and then submits them to the Joint Committee for consideration, when necessary. The Legislature’s recent attempt to amend and extend tobacco and motor vehicle compacts, on the other hand, was totally out of alignment with Oklahoma law applicable to compact negotiations. If the Legislature wants to insert itself into those compact processes beyond potential participation by the joint committee, current law must be amended. It hasn’t been.”
The letters to the Joint Committee can be found here and here and the signed compacts can be found here and here.