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Governor Stitt vetoes bill with 96% approval in house legislature

Updated: May. 11, 2022 at 9:59 PM CDT
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - On Monday Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt vetoed a bill that would share traffic violation data between the tribes and the state.

Ever since the Supreme Court decided that crimes committed by or against tribal members on tribal lands can’t be prosecuted by the state anymore it’s been on the tribes or the feds to enforce the law there.

Governor Stitt has never minced words about how he feels about the decision.

“We need transparency in all court systems,” said Governor Stitt. “Federal, state, and tribal and right now unfortunately we don’t have any transparency in what’s happening in the tribal courts.”

House Bill 3501 was designed to help with that.

It would require tribal traffic convictions to be disclosed to the department of public safety and be recognized on the same level as state convictions.

“For example if somebody received a DUI through our tribal court system our goal was to share that with the state of Oklahoma,” said Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton. “So that if an Oklahoma highway patrolman or any other law enforcement official would stop them they would see they received a DUI through the Choctaw nation.”

The bill passed through both sides of the state legislature quickly and seemed to be on its way to law.

But Governor Stitt says the bill missed the mark.

“This bill was not requested by myself, the governor of the state or DPS, Department of Public Safety didn’t request this,” said Governor Stitt. “This is a request bill from the Choctaws themselves. So basically they’re wanting the state to obey and listen to everything that comes out of their court system without any transparency.”

But Chief Batton says the governor’s veto contradicts his calls for transparency.

“He says he wants to look out for all four million Oklahomans,” said Chief Batton. “That’s not looking out for all four million Oklahomans when you’re not wanting to get data from other tribes to assure public safety.”

Despite the bill being vetoed there is still a chance it becomes law.

“The house and the senate can override that veto,” said Chief Batton. “We’re working to assure that that 96 percent stays in place, we’d like to think that it would because again it just makes good common sense.”

Governor Stitt feels confident his decision will hold up to the challenge.

“I think once the governor veto’s something and says here’s what our attorneys said, here’s actually where this bill came from,” said Governor Stitt. “It wasn’t a request from the state of Oklahoma, it wasn’t a request from law enforcement or DPS, this was a request from the big tribal governments. And so again once we explain that to the legislature I’m confident that they’re going to agree with me that we need 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 being argued in front of the Supreme Court right now about a non-tribal man convicted for neglect of his Cherokee daughter will limit what McGirt gave to the tribes in 2020 and make this bill a moot point.

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