Law & Principles

OCPA issues statement on veto overrides

July 24, 2023

Jonathan Small

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 24, 2023)—Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs President Jonathan Small issued the following statement today after members of the Oklahoma Senate voted to override Gov. Kevin Stitt’s veto of SB 26X and HB 1005X, which impose new one-year state-tribal compacts on tobacco-tax collections and motor-vehicle tags.

“With today’s vote, it is now clear that the number-one issue for voters to consider when they cast ballots next year will be whether a candidate supports having a state with one set of rules for all Oklahomans, or a state where different rules apply based on a citizen’s heritage and physical location,” Small said.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma declared the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s historic Oklahoma reservation was never formally disestablished for purposes of federal major-crimes law. That ruling has since been expanded to include other tribes whose historic reservations cover most of eastern Oklahoma.

It’s estimated 42 percent of Oklahoma lies within the historic reservation areas impacted by McGirt, a figure that translates into around 28,000 square miles that tribal officials may now claim is “Indian country” covered by the compacts. Because the Legislature did not address the impact of McGirt in their new one-year compact, the tribal-legislator tobacco agreement could lead to a dramatic increase in outlets where sales are subject to the compact and millions of dollars could be diverted away from Oklahoma government to tribal special interests.

The McGirt ruling is also being used in court to argue that individuals of American Indian heritage are exempt from paying state income taxes in eastern Oklahoma, and a recent court ruling found that those individuals are not subject to enforcement of local laws by local police in McGirt areas.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs is a free-market think tank that works to advance principles and policies that support free enterprise, limited government, individual initiative, and personal responsibility.