Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New State Office Proposed to Manage OK's Tribal Compacts

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New State Office Proposed to Manage OK's Tribal Compacts

Article excerpt

For the sake of preserving continuity in the state's relations with Indian tribes, the Oklahoma Academy for State Goals is recommending the governor set up a permanent office devoted to negotiating compacts.

The academy's recommendations, presented Tuesday on the grounds of the Governor's Mansion, also include a $15 million environmental bond issue and a competitive grants program to foster research at Oklahoma's universities.

The recommendations came out of the academy's town hall meeting in October, where 140 people discussed Oklahoma's Environment: Pursuing a Responsible Balance. The academy is nonpartisan and does not lobby, but is designed to provide information to policy-makers.

In presenting the academy's findings, Doug Branch of Biotech Law LLC stressed that the recommendations do not call for a new state agency to negotiate compacts with tribes regarding environmental regulation, gaming and other issues, but an office with a staff that won't change with each new administration.

It is very important that this 'know-how' be institutionalized, reads the summary of the academy's recommendations. The art, the know-how and the contents of these discussions are critical to future negotiating and compacting. It should not be lost with the changing of administrations.

Though the text of each compact is kept on file at the secretary of state's office, under Gov. Brad Henry's administration, the director of state finance heads negotiations on compacts. Under the previous administration, Gov. Frank Keating's chief of staff headed negotiations.

What we are suggesting is that we learn from those documents - make them a more living set of documents, said Julie Knutson, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Academy.

The academy also recommended a long-range strategic plan be developed for environmental sustainability, looking up to 100 years into the future. …

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