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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Four Oklahoma Tribes signed tobacco compacts with the state of Oklahoma today, making it eight of out 13 tribes that have now formalized agreements to pay 25 percent of the state tobacco tax, a condition identical to prior compacts, according to Native American Times.
If the state tax on cigarettes is ever raised, tribes will pay the state 50 percent of the increased amount. The governor's office gave this example: If the cigarette tax were raised from 23 cents to 50 cents, the 50 percent would only be applied to the 27-percent difference. The 25-percent levy would remain in effect for the first 23 cents. The 50 percent would not be applied on tribal tobacco outlets that are within 20 miles of another state that has a lower state cigarette tax.
The Osage Nation, Wyandotte Nation, the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma and Kiowa Tribe all agreed to revenue-sharing compacts today. The Chickasaw Nation, Seminole Nation, Choctaw Nation and Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma have also signed compacts. Osage Principal Chief Jim Gray and Iowa Chair Phoebe O' Dell both participated in a signing ceremony with Governor Brad Henry at the state capitol, Native American Times reported.
"I appreciate the tribal leaders and the cooperation they demonstrated during our negotiations," said Henry. " Because this compact will produce revenue for important services such as education and health care, it will benefit everyone ? the tribes, the state and all of the people of Oklahoma."
Osage Chief Jim Gray said the compact stemmed from extensions granted when former Gov. Frank Keating left office and Henry took over.
"That allowed Gov. Henry to negotiate with tribes and develop his own policy. As a result we ended up finding an agreement that the [Osage] tribal council has supported and allowed me to sign on behalf of the tribe," Gray said.
Because of their status as sovereign nations, tribes cannot be forced to pay a cigarette tax on sales to tribal members. They can, however, enter into revenue-sharing agreements to compensate the state for smoke shop sales to non-tribal members.
Henry said bringing all 13 tribes into compact agreements has been a top priority, the news source reported.
"If we work together, the tribes and state can do great things for the people of Oklahoma. Just like bipartisanship helped fuel a productive legislative session this year, cooperation between the state and tribes can help lead to a more productive and prosperous Oklahoma," Henry said, according to Native American Times.