PRESS RELEASE | Pro Tem Treat Comments on State Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Legislature in Compacting Lawsuit

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April 2, 2024

Pro Tem Treat Comments on State Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Legislature in Compacting Lawsuit

Supreme Court: The concurrent special session was constitutional

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, today commented on the unanimous, 9-to-0, ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in favor of the legislature’s authority to override vetoes of tribal compacting bills related to car tags and tobacco that remit millions of dollars to the state each year.

The state receives around $58 million per year from tribal motor vehicle and tobacco compacts.

“This was an unsurprising, but welcome ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court,” Pro Tem Treat said. “We knew from the onset this litigation was unproductive and a waste of taxpayer money. This is money that could have been spent on essential services for Oklahomans. Instead, it will go toward legal fees for outside counsel in a failed attempt on flawed logic and the governor’s authority to make policy decisions. I applaud the unanimous decision by the state Supreme Court and hope we can now re-shift our focus and attention to the important work of helping Oklahomans, which include our tribal partners.”

The lawsuit was filed last year after Governor Kevin Stitt sued the legislature after members of both chambers overrode two of his vetoes in a July special session. Senate Bill 26x and House Bill 1005x, extended tribal tobacco and motor vehicle registration compacts for one year.

In their opinion, Justices pointed to a previous lawsuit filed by the governor in 2020, writing, “Though we recognized the Governor's authority to negotiate and enter into compacts, "the Governor must negotiate the compacts within the bounds of the laws enacted by the Legislature.”

Similarly, Justices pointed to a 2021 lawsuit involving compacts by saying, “the Governor invalidly negotiated and entered into new Tribal gaming compacts because the statute granting him the authority to do so required such compacts to be within the bounds of the Model Tribal Gaming Compact or obtained through approval of the Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations. In holding the compacts were invalid, we stated that "[t]he Executive branch's authority to advocate and negotiate gaming compacts is statutory-not constitutional. And the use of such authority must be in conformity with statute."

In denying the governor’s request, the Oklahoma Supreme Court concluded by writing – “We hold that the Legislature had the Constitutional authority to consider S.B. 26x and H.B. 1005x during a concurrent Special Session, and that the Legislation did not exceed the call of the Special Session. Additionally, we hold that the Governor's authority to negotiate State-Tribal compacts is statutory, not constitutional.”

To read the opinion issued today, click here.


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