ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) — On Monday, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt vetoed a bill that would share traffic violation data between tribes and the state.
Since the Supreme Court ruled that crimes committed by or against tribal members on tribal lands can no longer be prosecuted by the state, it’s up to the tribes or the federal government to enforce the law there.
Governor Stitt has never minced his words on how he feels about the decision.
“We need transparency in all justice systems,” Governor Stitt said. “Federal, state and tribal and at this time, unfortunately, we have no transparency on what is happening in the tribal courts.”
House Bill 3501 was designed to help with this.
This would require tribal trafficking convictions to be disclosed to the Department of Public Safety and recognized at the same level as state convictions.
“For example, if someone received a DUI through our tribal court system, our goal was to share it with the state of Oklahoma,” Choctaw Nation Leader Gary Batton said. “So if an Oklahoma highway patrol or any other law enforcement official pulled them over, they would see that they got a DUI through the Choctaw Nation.”
The bill was quickly passed by both sides of the state legislature and appeared to be on its way to becoming law.
But Governor Stitt says the bill missed the mark.
“This bill was not requested by myself, the state governor or the DPS, the Department of Public Safety did not request this,” Governor Stitt said. “It’s a bill request from the Choctaws themselves. So basically they want the state to obey and listen to everything that comes out of their judicial system without any transparency.
But Chief Batton says the governor’s veto contradicts his calls for transparency.
“He says he wants to watch over four million Oklahomans,” Chief Batton said. “It’s not about the four million Oklahomans when you don’t want to get data from other tribes for public safety.”
Despite the veto of the bill, there is still a chance that it will become law.
“The House and the Senate can override this veto,” Chief Batton said. “We’re working to make sure that that 96% stays in place, we’d like to think that would be the case, because again, that’s just common sense.”
Governor Stitt is confident his decision will stand the test.
“I think once the governor vetoes something and says, here’s what our lawyers said, here’s actually where this bill came from,” Governor Stitt said. “This was not a request from the State of Oklahoma, this was not a request from law enforcement or DPS, this was a request from major tribal governments. And again, once we explain this to the legislature, I’m sure they’ll agree with me that we have to wait and see what happens with the Supreme Court.
The Oklahoma House passed this bill 69-3, the Oklahoma Senate 44-1.
Governor Stitt believes a case currently being argued in the Supreme Court regarding a non-tribal man convicted of neglecting his Cherokee daughter will limit what McGirt gave to tribes in 2020 and make this bill a moot point.
Copyright 2022 KXII. All rights reserved.