The Edmond Sun

December 30, 2013

Arbitration panel rules in favor of Oklahoma


Special to The Sun

OKLA. CITY — A three-member arbitration panel handed down opinions today favorable to the state of Oklahoma involving disputes with two American Indian tribes over tobacco compacts.

Both rulings were unanimous in cases involving the Absentee-Shawnee Tribe and the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes.

The decisions put both tribes on non-compact status for retail tobacco sales, said Steve Mullins, general counsel for Gov. Mary Fallin.

Without a compact agreement with the state, the Absentee-Shawnee and Wichita tribal retailers will be issued black stamps, which allow a limited number of tobacco products to be sold tax-free but only to tribal citizens. For all other tobacco sales, they will be obligated to pay the full tax rate.

“I am still committed to negotiating in good faith with both tribes on terms for new tobacco compacts,” said Gov. Fallin. “I look forward to the opportunity to engage in these discussions.”

The governor’s office began negotiating new tobacco compacts with most tribes earlier this year. Of the state’s 38 federally recognized tribes, 25 have agreed on new compacts.