(The Center Square) - Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt sent letters to the states' 14 tribes Thursday asking them to approve a one-year extension of the tobacco tax compact.
The compacts require the state and the tribes to split tax revenue 50-50.
The governor vetoed a compact approved by the Legislature, saying he is concerned the tribes are holding out for a compact that would change the definition of what Stitt called "Indian" country. The Senate failed to override the veto Monday by just one vote. Nine senators were not present for the vote.
The state could lose $57 million in revenue if the compact is not renewed, according to Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat.
Stitt cited the U.S. Supreme Court's McGirt decision as the reason behind his veto. Last year's ruling said the Muscogee Nation's reservation was never disestablished, prohibiting state prosecutors from pursuing charges in major crimes involving American Indians on reservation land. Native American tribes have said the decision extends to collecting taxes.
Stitt proposed a different compact before the Legislature introduced its bill.
"The tribes don't want to sign that, in my opinion, or they would have already done it and they are pushing for this compact that basically takes the definition of Indian Country and after the McGirt decision, it has different consequences," Stitt said. "It means it could potentially mean 42% of our state."
The governor is asking for "clearly defined compact jurisdiction language to ensure the same boundaries contemplated in the current compacts (i.e. lands owned by the tribe and/or its members which are held in trust by the United States, or which are owned by members of the tribes and are subject to restricted title) are maintained."
The compact would be extended for one year, and the 50-50 split would continue, according to the letter.
"It is my sincere hope that this letter paves the way toward an agreement that will benefit all 4 million Oklahomans," Stitt said in a release. "I extend this offer in good faith and remain steadfast in my belief that we must find common ground to move our state forward."
The Legislature could consider overriding Stitt's veto again next month. A special session was extended until July 31. The House voted to override a separate veto of a tribal compact dealing with motor vehicle registration revenue. The Senate has not considered that veto.
via Oklahoma's Center Square News