Tribal sovereignty among the top issues facing Oklahoma governor and Legislature

Feb 4, 2024, 10:01 PM

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.

United States News

Associated Press

Largest trial court in the US closes after ransomware attack, California officials say

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The largest trial court in the country was closed Monday after a ransomware attack shut down its computer system late last week, officials with the Superior Court of Los Angeles County said. The court disabled its computer network upon discovery of the cybersecurity attack early Friday, and the system remained down […]

16 minutes ago

Associated Press

Cleveland-Cliffs will make electrical transformers at shuttered West Virginia tin plant

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Cleveland-Cliffs announced Monday it will produce electrical transformers in a $150 million investment at a West Virginia facility that closed earlier this year. The company hopes to reopen the Weirton facility in early 2026 and “address the critical shortage of distribution transformers that is stifling economic growth across the United States,” […]

19 minutes ago

Charlie Woods drives off the 18th tee during the first round of stroke play of the U.S. Junior Amat...

Associated Press

Tiger Woods watches 15-year-old son Charlie shoot a 12-over 82 in US Junior Amateur at Oakland Hills

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Charlie Woods, the 15-year-old son of Tiger Woods, shot a 12-over 82 on Monday in the U.S. Junior Amateur at Oakland Hills. Woods birdied both of the par 5s on the Oakland Hills North Course and struggled on the par 3s and 4s, carding five double bogeys and four bogeys. […]

20 minutes ago

Associated Press

No one hurt when CSX locomotive derails and strikes residential garage in Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (AP) — A locomotive derailed and struck a residential garage Monday in Niagara Falls, according to CSX. No one was injured. The impact caused a loss of diesel fuel, which was contained and did not impact any waterways, the railway said in an emailed statement. Photos from the scene show the blue […]

59 minutes ago

FILE - A voting center is pictured during early voting in the states' presidential primary election...

Associated Press

GOP threatened to sue over November ballot if Biden dropped out. Experts call that ‘ridiculous’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Even before President Joe Biden’s long-speculated withdrawal from the 2024 presidential race, allies of former President Donald Trump floated the possibility of suing to block Democrats from having anyone other than Biden on the ballot in November. But election administration and legal experts said the timing of Biden’s exit on Sunday makes […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Konrad Bicher, who dubbed himself the "Wolf of Airbnb," leaves Federal Court, in New York, M...

Associated Press

Self-professed ‘Wolf of Airbnb’ sentenced to over 4 years in prison for defrauding landlords

NEW YORK (AP) — A Florida man who boasted that he was the “Wolf of Airbnb” was sentenced Monday to over four years in prison for defrauding New York City landlords and a federal pandemic-relief government program. Konrad Bicher, 32, of Hialeah, Florida, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by Judge Lorna G. Schofield. The […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Tribal sovereignty among the top issues facing Oklahoma governor and Legislature