The Oklahoma Senate held a special session on July 24 to address Governor Stitt’s veto of House Bill 1005, which would extend the tribal tobacco tax compacts set to expire at the end of 2023 for another year. Representatives from nearly 20 Oklahoma-based tribes, including the Quapaw Nation, were in the Senate Chamber during the special session.
The Oklahoma Senate voted 34-7 to overturn Stitt’s veto during the special session. The Oklahoma House of Representatives must still override this bill to become law, which expects to meet on July 31.
“The Oklahoma Legislature acted within their authority to overturn Governor Stitt’s veto of House Bill 1005,” said Quapaw Nation Chair Wena Supernaw. “Stitt has proven to be unable or unwilling to negotiate in good faith by vetoing the Bill which had majority support from both the Oklahoma House and Senate.”
Senator Micheal Bergstrom, whose district includes the Quapaw Nation and nine other tribes, voted not to overturn the Governor’s veto.
Governor Stitt’s team sent 16 letters to the tribes whose compact was set to expire by the end of 2023. However, at least three of the 16 letters, including one to the Quapaw Nation, addressed former representatives who no longer hold the top elected positions of those tribes.
“I would like for the Oklahoma State Legislature to consider removing tribal/state government-to-government relations from the Executive Branch to the Legislative Branch of Oklahoma,” said Chair Supernaw.
The Quapaw Nation’s compact is set to expire at the end of 2023. If the Oklahoma House of Representatives also votes to overturn the veto, the Quapaw Nation and over 20 tribes will have another year to negotiate their tobacco compacts.
Most of the Quapaw Nation’s tax dollars generated by the compact over tobacco sales go towards public safety programs, such as the Marshal Services, EMS and fire department. None of these services are exclusive to the Quapaw Nation members; they are available for anyone in the surrounding area: tribal or non-tribal.