Joint Committee on State Tribal Relations rejects Governor Stitt

October 26, 2023

The Joint Committee on State Tribal Relations refuses to greenlight compacts proposed by Governor Stitt.

Compacts submitted by Governor of Oklahoma Kevin Stitt were rejected yesterday by the Joint Committee on State Tribal Relations, after the panel voiced concerns that the deals could lead to more casinos in Oklahoma County. 

The two compacts in question, between Stitt the Kialegee Tribal Town and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, were struck in 2020. This was done following a rejected 2019 renegotiation of the main state-tribal gaming compact.

These two compacts were negotiated separately; however, in 2021 legislative leaders filed suit against Stitt for exceeding authority in compact negotiations, which has resulted in the current developing case between the governor, tribal gaming representatives, and legal bodies.  

Alongside this, a debate rose regarding the power the committee had to approve or deny the deals in the first place.  

Despite the ruling, it was reported that Stitt stuck true to his beliefs, citing the compacts as good deals and asking why lawmakers did not previously act. In a comment, he said "I don’t understand, why these guys can’t game and the other guys can. They are federally recognized.” 

Notably, despite Stitts's insistence on the compacts, they have also been rejected by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. This has been a key point of argument for Attorney General Gentner Drummond, who has argued that not only are the Governor's compacts invalid, but that the Joint Committee on State Tribal Relations does not have the authority to decide the compact's validity.

“Proper respect for the law compels the conclusion that the Joint Committee lacks authority to make valid that which the Oklahoma Supreme Court earlier declared to be invalid,” he said. 

The varied opinions that appeared at the panel make it unlikely this case will conclude anytime soon.


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