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Tribal tobacco compact veto override fails in Oklahoma Senate, but that's not the end of the line

Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall talk ahead of the State of the State address on Feb. 6, 2023.
Abi Ruth Martin
The Oklahoma Legislative Service Bureau
Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall talk ahead of the State of the State address on Feb. 6, 2023.

The Senate failed to produce the two-thirds vote requirement to overturn Gov. Kevin Stitt’s veto of Oklahoma’s tribal tobacco compact during special session Monday morning.

The vote fell short by just one to overturn the veto. The House had voted 74-11 tooverride the veto earlier in June.

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat asked for senators to vote for the override, adding the state could potentially lose millions. In 2022, the state collectedover $57 million in tobacco tax revenues. That money goes toward mental health services, emergency response stabilization and cancer research.

The tobacco compacts bind tribes to purchasing products exclusively from Oklahoma-licensed wholesalers.

“If not extended, they’re under no obligation to buy from these wholesalers that we already collect the tax at the wholesale level. And they would be unwise to continue to do so from a business perspective,” Treat said.

The Senate voted to extend the special session until July 31. Treat said there isn’t a rule that would forbid him from presenting a veto override in the future with more senators there to vote.

Another veto override, one that would extend tribal motor vehicle tag compacts, was on the agenda for Monday’s session, but senators did not take that bill up.

In astatement, Stitt applauded the senate for sustaining the veto, adding his original offer to extend previously negotiated compacts still stands.

“I believe that today’s outcome underscores the state’s commitment to negotiating compacts in good faith, that are beneficial to all parties involved,” Stitt wrote.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. wrote in astatement he was disappointed by the vote shortfall, noting a strong majority of legislators in both chambers understand the need to extend both compacts.

Hoskin wrote that with all senators in attendance, he believes the veto will be overridden.

“Cherokee Nation will continue to advocate for the veto overrides, which will prevent disruption to the economy as we work together for a longer-term solution,” Hoskin wrote. “Cherokee Nation remains open to finding win-win solutions as long as they respect our tribal sovereignty.”

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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