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Legislature eyes cutting Gov. Stitt out of Oklahoma's tobacco, fuel compact negotiations with tribal nations

Legislative Service Bureau Photography

Oklahoma lawmakers are considering measures to cut Gov. Kevin Stitt out of negotiations with the state’s Native American tribes on tobacco and fuel compacts.

Stitt’s frosty relationship with tribal nations has made negotiations tough in the past.

During his first term, the governor and the tribes publicly feuded over gaming compacts.

Representative Kevin Wallace said the two measures up for consideration — House Bills 2898 and 2899 — would simply keep the status quo on tobacco and fuel compacts.

“This just extends the existing language of the compacts that was already in place,” Wallace said. “And of course the sunset or the expiration would be January 2028.”

That’s after Stitt will be term-limited out of office.

Stitt said he was disappointed in the timing of the bill coming “in the dark of the night, the very last week of session.”

“I'm not against anybody opening a gas station and selling tobacco,” Stitt said. “We just want it to be fair.”

Stitt said his legal team was concerned about some of the language in existing compacts in the wake of the McGirt v. Oklahoma ruling and where tribal nations can collect taxes from.

It's unclear what the final measures will look like.

In the opposite legislative chamber, Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat has said he generally supports extending the compacts for a year or two, but not necessarily the full five to run out the clock on Stitt because of the governor’s legal concerns.

“The governor has not been successful in trying to get those renewed with the terms that he's offered,” Treat said. “I want to make sure that we're working well with our tribal partners, but we're also upholding the state interest on that.”

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Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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