NATIONAL NEWS

Tribal sovereignty among the top issues facing Oklahoma governor and Legislature

Feb 4, 2024, 9:01 PM

FILE - Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt answers a question while taking part in a panel discussion during ...

FILE - Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt answers a question while taking part in a panel discussion during a Republican Governors Association conference, Nov. 16, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. Tribal sovereignty is expected to again be a top issue facing lawmakers and Stitt as they return, Monday, Feb. 5 to begin the 2024 legislative session. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Tribal sovereignty is expected to again be a top issue facing Oklahoma lawmakers and Gov. Kevin Stitt as they returned on Monday to begin the 2024 legislative session.

Stitt, a Republican and himself a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, has had a contentious relationship with tribal leaders that began with a dispute during his first year in office over casino revenue and has worsened with conflict over agreements on tobacco sales, motor vehicle tags, taxes and criminal jurisdiction.

In his State of the State address to lawmakers on Monday, Stitt once again took aim at expanded tribal sovereignty and the landmark 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision on criminal jurisdiction, dubbed McGirt after the plaintiff in the case, that much of eastern Oklahoma remained a tribal reservation.

“Three years after McGirt, we are still operating under a confusing and conflicting patchwork of jurisdiction across our state,” Stitt said.

Stitt also said confusion remains in Oklahoma over whether tribal citizens on reservations must pay income taxes or can be cited by police for traffic violations.

“We can’t be a state that operates with two different sets of rules,” Stitt said. “Especially based on race.”

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, a frequent critic of Stitt and one of many tribal leaders in the gallery for the governor’s speech, bristled at Stitt’s suggestion that race is a factor in tribal relations.

“That’s either a very cynical, purposeful, strategic employment of rhetoric, or it’s born of complete ignorance, because we’re not talking about race,” Hoskin said. “We’re talking about sovereign nations. And if he doesn’t get it at this point, I’m starting to doubt that he will.”

Hoskin also downplayed Stitt’s contention that there is widespread confusion over criminal jurisdiction.

“The picture he’s painted of confusion, we don’t see it,” Hoskin said. “We see cooperation every day.”

Last year the Legislature convened in special session to override the governor’s veto of a bill to extend agreements on tribal tobacco sales and motor vehicle tags, and the issue is expected to surface again this year.

Many lawmakers hope the relationship between the tribes and Stitt has thawed somewhat following a deal the governor reached last month with the Chickasaw Nation for a 10-year agreement on tobacco and car tags. Similar deals have been signed with the Apache, Potawatomie and Wyandotte tribes.

“I see it as a very good indication that the state and the tribes will be able to work together,” said Sen. Brent Howard, chairman of the Joint Committee on State-Tribal relations.

Stitt isn’t the only GOP governor whose relationship with tribal leaders has been contentious. A South Dakota tribe on Saturday banned Republican Gov. Kristi Noem from the Pine Ridge Reservation after she suggested sending razor wire to Texas to help deter immigration and said that cartels were infiltrating Native American reservations in that state.

Among the issues Oklahoma lawmakers are expected to tackle this session is a possible income tax cut, a top priority for Stitt. The House approved a 0.25% reduction in the rate last week, but Senate leaders have said such a move is premature since final revenue numbers haven’t been released.

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat released data over the weekend suggesting that cutting the state’s portion of the sales tax on groceries would save the average Oklahoman more than five times as much as a 0.25% income tax cut.

“Eliminating the grocery tax would provide Oklahomans immediate relief and savings they would see every time they go to the grocery store,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

National News

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is covered by U.S. Secret Service a...

Associated Press

Shock and relief cross party lines as past and present leaders react to shooting at Trump rally

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican and Democratic leaders, past and present, expressed shock Saturday night following the news that gunfire had broken out during a Donald Trump campaign rally in Pennsylvania — and relief that the former president had survived the attack. Notable officials, including former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, praised the fast […]

13 minutes ago

President Joe Biden speaks, Saturday, July 13, 2024, in Rehoboth Beach, Del., addressing news that ...

Associated Press

Biden says ‘everybody must condemn’ attack on Trump, hopes to speak with ex-president soon

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) — President Joe Biden said Saturday that “everybody must condemn” the suspected assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump, adding that he hoped to speak with his 2024 presidential rival soon. Addressing the nation about two hours after the shooting, Biden said he was relieved that Trump is reportedly “doing well.” […]

41 minutes ago

BUTLER, PENNSYLVANIA - JULY 13: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump pum...

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, CBS NEWS, AND VARIOUS NEWS REPORTS

BREAKING: Trump rally shootings being investigated as ‘assassination attempt’; One spectator and gunman dead

Donald Trump was whisked off the stage at a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania after apparent gunshots rang through the crowd.

3 hours ago

Fitness guru Richard Simmons died Saturday at age 76. (AP)...

MARK KENNEDY, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

TV’s silly fitness guru Richard Simmons dies at 76

Richard Simmons, TV's court jester of physical fitness who built an empire by urging the overweight to exercise and eat better, has died.

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Richard Simmons, a fitness guru who mixed laughs and sweat, dies at 76

NEW YORK (AP) — Richard Simmons, television’s hyperactive court jester of physical fitness who built a mini-empire in his trademark tank tops and short shorts by urging the overweight to exercise and eat better, died Saturday. He was 76. Los Angeles police and fire departments say they responded to a Los Angeles house where a […]

4 hours ago

FILE - Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., greets supporters at an election night party Nov. 8, 2022, at Loo...

Associated Press

Minnesota Republican Tayler Rahm drops out to clear path for Joe Teirab in competitive US House race

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Republicans got a straighter path to potential victory Saturday in what is expected to be Minnesota’s closest congressional race when GOP-endorsed candidate Tayler Rahm dropped out of a primary fight against the better-funded Joe Teirab, who already had tacit backing from key House leaders. Rahm, a political newcomer and defense attorney, said […]

4 hours ago

Tribal sovereignty among the top issues facing Oklahoma governor and Legislature