OKLAHOMA CITY (July 20, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt today issued Executive Order 2020-24, announcing the formation of The Oklahoma Commission on Cooperative Sovereignty to address concerns and make recommendations to the State and the U.S. Congress in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions in McGirt v. Oklahoma and Sharp v. Murphy.
“We know that there is a lot of unpredictability right now,” said Gov. Stitt. “We are committed to working with all Oklahomans, Tribal and non-Tribal, to create a practical and sustainable path forward. This commission is the first step.”
The commission will advise the Governor on civil, criminal and regulatory concerns, and will be composed of leaders from various spheres including law, government and business. Gov. Stitt has named Larry Nichols, co-founder of Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy, as chair of the commission. Other members include former U.S. Sen. Don Nickles, former U.S. Rep.J.C. Watts, Oklahoma Sen. Julie Daniels, Oklahoma Rep. Mark Lepak, Alan Armstrong, Brent Bolen, Suzie Brewster, Harold Hamm and Joe Robson.
Additional members may also include a representative of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office, a member of the DistrictAttorneys Council and representatives of Oklahoma’s federally recognized Indian Tribes.
Gov. Stitt says collaboration with Oklahoma’s Tribes will be crucial. “We absolutely need the partnership of the Tribes for this process to be successful,” said Gov. Stitt. “I respect and recognize the sovereignty of every Tribe in Oklahoma and look forward to working with every Tribe to ensure that we meet our shared economic, security and social goals.”
Gov. Stitt emphasized that the commission’s work will be comprehensive and thorough, presenting a unified response for the State.
To ensure that its recommendations are responsive to the needs of all Oklahomans, the commission will also hear from and engage with leaders from various sectors of the Oklahoma economy, local communities and the public.
“While I appreciate the enthusiasm to rush into agreements, it’s vital that our next steps be thoughtful and informed,” said Gov. Stitt. “The Commission provides all Oklahomans with a central platform to help determine what those next steps might be.”
Per the Executive Order, state agencies, boards or commissions that believe they may be impacted by the McGirt decision are ordered to submit a Notice of Potential Impact by Aug. 28, and a more detailed Report of Potential Impact by Sept. 30.
On July 9, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held the Muscogee (Creek) reservation was never disestablished. As it stands, these decisions alter the State’s legal jurisdiction and law enforcement capabilities on potentially a significant portion of eastern Oklahoma, creating uncertainty for many Oklahomans. Gov. Stitt established the Commission on Cooperative Sovereignty to coordinate the State’s response and recommendations to the U.S. Congress.