I am vetoing Senate Bill 41 in its entirety. This bill requires legislative approval of Indian gaming compacts. The bill further stipulates that if the Legislature does not approve the compact, it must be returned to the Governor for renegotiation.
Negotiations with the eleven Native American tribes that have gaming compacts with the state are a complex and involved process. Each of the tribes is a sovereign nation, with separate goals and interests pertaining to gaming. Completing individual compacts with each tribe is time consuming for a Governor and his staff. Adding the entire Legislature to this process would make these negotiations impossible to complete.
The state is currently facing a significant fiscal crisis. The Native American tribes are interested in compacts that reflect the long–term commitment that each of these nations has made to gaming enterprises within their broader economic development strategy. Taken together, there are significant positive opportunities for all involved in negotiating new compacts. These opportunities will be impossible to achieve without a focused negotiation strategy.
I believe that current law authorizing the Governor, on behalf of the state, to conduct negotiations with the Native American tribes regarding gaming compacts is wise public policy. Changing that law would prevent the state and tribes from reaching mutually beneficial goals.