Tax Commission hopes to extend Tobacco Compact to 2017

The Osage Nation is banding together with 23 tribal nations in its hope to extend its tobacco compact with the state of Oklahoma till 2017.

At two intertribal meetings held in Stroud, Okla., the first on March 18 and the second on April 22, the tribes have produced a unified front as they negotiate with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin.

“Each tribe has a compact in effect now, with important provisions such as most favored nations’ clauses designed to protect both the interest of the tribes and the state,” according to the April 22 letter signed by George Thurman, chairman of the United Indian Nations of Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. “Tribes have been compliant with the compacts. We expect any good-faith negotiations include discussion of current compacts and terms therein, including provisions allowing for an extension of existing compacts to 2017.”

According to Osage tax commissioners at their regularly scheduled meeting May 14, the Nation hopes to have the compact negotiated by June 17, said Beverly Brownfield, Osage tax commissioner. Governor Brad Henry signed the Osages current tobacco compact Dec. 10, 2008.

The Creek Nation, Kaw Nation and the Cheyenne Arapaho Nations have signed tobacco compacts with the state.

Fallin said in an April 4 letter to the UINOKT, that she knows the tobacco compacts are equally beneficial to tribes and the state but she believes that in some instances, the state would be better served by inclusion or deletion of certain compact terms.

“While I do not feel it is appropriate to grant an extension of all current compacts for an extended period of time, I personally assure you that the State of Oklahoma will negotiate new tobacco compacts in good faith,” Fallin wrote. “I also commit that if the State of Oklahoma is in serious good-faith negotiations with any Tribal Nation on June 30, 2013, when the current compacts expire, I am willing to enter into short-term tobacco agreements to allow time to finish negotiations and insure that there are no significant disruption of tribal or state services as a result of the expiration of current compacts.”