Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tribal Compacts Legal, According to OK Attorney General's 2004 Opinion

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tribal Compacts Legal, According to OK Attorney General's 2004 Opinion

Article excerpt

An Oklahoma attorney general opinion from 2004 states that Gov. Brad Henry does have the authority to compact with Indian tribes without the approval of the Legislature. Furthermore, the opinion indicates that the Legislature does not have the authority to even create such a requirement.

State Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Del City, recently requested an attorney general opinion on whether the tobacco compacts Henry and state Treasurer Scott Meacham reached in recent years with the tribes are legal, because they were signed without the approval of the Legislature. But state Sen. James Williamson, R-Tulsa, had asked Attorney General Drew Edmondson a similar question in 2004.

Back then, when I was leader of the Republicans in the Senate, it was in context of whether the governor could compact with the tribes on these gambling compacts without any legislative oversight, Williamson said. Without doing further research, I would say that the governor under Edmondson's ruling has the power to compact without legislative approval-. I was somewhat surprised, and I thought it kind of emasculated even the need for a tribal relations committee.

Title 74 of the Oklahoma Statutes states that compacts with the tribes become effective only upon approval of the Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations. But the governor's office has cited a section of Title 68, written about four years later than the Title 74 statute, which states the governor has the authority to enter into tobacco compacts. Title 68 does not mention the requirement for legislative approval.

Williamson's question to the attorney general does not specifically reference either gaming or tobacco compacts in asking if the governor can compact with Indian tribes or other governments, and thereby bind the state, without the approval of each compact by the Legislature. …

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