Press Release

October 22, 2020

OKLAHOMA COMMISSION ON COOPERATIVE SOVEREIGNTY PRESENTS REPORT TO GOVERNOR STITT

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OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 22, 2020)— The Oklahoma Commission on Cooperative Sovereignty today presented its recommendations for the State and the U.S. Congress in response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma

“The questions caused by the McGirt decision have put our state at a crossroads,” said Gov. Stitt. “But where some see a major challenge for our state, I see an opportunity. We can work together and secure our future as One Oklahoma, maintaining our diversity and sharing the vision of becoming a Top Ten state.”

Formed by Governor Kevin Stitt under Executive Order 2020-24 to explore the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court's rulingthe advisory Commission recommended five principles to ensure consistency and stability for both the State of Oklahoma and Oklahoma’s Tribal Nations. 

These principles include: 

  1. All Oklahomans should be treated equally under the law, and fairly represented by their commonly elected State officials.
  1. All Oklahomans should share, as provided under Oklahoma law and without regard to race, gender or affiliation, in the funding of the common services provided by the State to its residents, including, but not limited to:
    1. Transportation and infrastructure,
    2. Education,
    3. Public Safety and Corrections (law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and others),
    4. Criminal and Civil Courts,
    5. Environmental Protection,
    6. Health and Human Services (such as Child Welfare),
    7. Worker's Compensation and Unemployment Administration, and
    8. Economic Development.

The responsibility of current and historic taxes, fees, and other levies established by the commonly elected officials of Oklahoma should be placed on all Oklahoma residents irrespective of race, gender, or affiliation in order to avoid the unequal and inequitable distribution of the costs associated with the common services provided to those residents by the State. 

  1. Laws, regulations and government services as established by our commonly elected officials should apply consistently to all residents of Oklahoma regardless of race, gender or affiliation. To ensure that each resident obtains equal protection under the law, and access to essential common services:
    1. The same laws, regulations, policies and means of enforcement should apply to all Oklahoma residents, except as to Trust-owned land.
  1. Oklahoma must provide a level playing field for all businesses to compete and flourish, regardless of where, within the boundaries of the State of Oklahoma, they are located. Only then will we attract and retain businesses in our great state.
    1. Zoning, land use regulations, construction codes and permits should be consistent for all people, businesses and activities within established local jurisdictional limits and within unincorporated areas that are governed by Oklahoma law.
    2. Except as to Trust-owned lands, mineral rights regulation and environmental regulation should remain the responsibility of the State to ensure these programs are administered and enforced consistently for all Oklahoma residents and businesses.
  1. The State of Oklahoma supports, values and embraces the culture and uniqueness of each of the tribes that reside within Oklahoma, and supports the sovereignty of these tribes in a way that is consistent with these principles.

A copy of the full report can be read here.  

“This report from the Commission is the first step to addressing the uncertainty that we are facing, but there is still work to be done,” said Larry Nichols, Chair of the Commission on Cooperative Sovereignty. “I look forward to continuing to partner with the governor, our congressional delegation, tribal and state leaders and Oklahomans as we strive to build a better Oklahoma.” 

“As governor, I represent members of all 39 tribes and all 4 million Oklahomans,” said Gov. Stitt. “This is why one set of rules is so essential to becoming a Top Ten state. These recommendations will help guide our response as we continue to work together with all stakeholders and provide clarity, fairness and unity for Oklahoma.”

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 issue recommendations to the U.S. Congress and all Oklahomans.

Members of the Commission include co-founder of Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy and chair of the commission Larry Nichols, 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.

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