Oklahoma Lawmakers, Governor Stitt and DPS at Odds Over Public Safety Bill

KOKH - May 31, 2022 9:29 pm

State lawmakers are bridging the gap in communication between tribal courts and the Department of Public Safety.

In a vote overriding the Governor’s veto, a bill aimed at increasing public safety is now law.

Rep. David Hardin, (R)-Stilwell, the sponsor of the driving safety bill, said because of reporting conflicts in Oklahoma, there could be people on the road that shouldn’t have a license.

“Technically you could get arrested every night of your life in those small towns on a DUI or speeding ticket or whatever, and they would never go on your driving record,” Rep. Hardin said.

The goal of the legislation is to ensure that those charged or arrested on tribal lands are actually being reported back to DPS, so those incidents will show up on a driver’s record.

“If I’m correct, everyone is carrying different sets of ticket books, one for the tribes, one for the state, one for the municipality,” Rep. Hardin said. “The tribes send in this information, but DPS is not allowed to use it because they’re not in our constitution. All this bill does is allow DPS to use those traffic citations on our point system with our driver’s license.”

DPS released a statement saying the bill was not requested or supported by them, based on questions about jurisdictional reach and transparency of tribal courts.

Rep. Hardin said his conversation with DPS representatives were much different.

“I asked, are you good with this bill or do you support this legislation?” Rep. Hardin said. “And I was told yes, we think it’s a good bill, however because of the relationship with the tribes and the Governor, we kind of have to stand in the background on this.”

The Governor’s veto statement said the bill is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” and that the bill erodes state jurisdiction and sovereignty by leaving more authority to the tribes.

Majority of House Republicans disagree.

“Obviously the Governor has an issue with the tribes in Oklahoma, but vetoing good policy that is going to protect Oklahomans just because you think it might benefit a tribe in anyway, is foolish and short sided and petty,” Rep. Ryan Martinez, (R)-Edmond said.

The Department of Public Safety serves under the Governor.

While there’s a lot of miscommunication and pointing fingers at why this was sponsored, the bill is now state law.

 

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