Stitt focuses on federal aid, McGirt and vaccine rollout in whirlwind trip to Washington


Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks recently to the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C. Photo by Senate Press Photographer

WASHINGTON — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt spent the past two days begging for more federal money to help the state recover from a historic winter storm.

“This has been an important trip because I wanted to let our federal delegation know exactly what was happening after the historic weather events,” Stitt said. “We’re worried for Oklahoman’s sake that some of the electricity bills are going to skyrocket, and so we’re trying to figure out, is there a federal solution to that?”

Currently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s web page shows Oklahoma has received no federal assistance for the storm. President Biden declared a state of emergency in Oklahoma Feb. 18.

Stitt said he also spoke with the delegation to talk about the state’s coronavirus response and the effects of the landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma Supreme Court decision.

In his meetings Stitt said he’s been highlighting Oklahoma’s “All of the Above” energy policy, which he said helped the state avoid the long-lasting rolling blackouts that plagued Texas.

“One of the things that we’re bringing awareness to in Oklahoma is that we have an All of the Above energy policy in Oklahoma,” Stitt said. “That proved very, very well in the last storm, because our friends of the South had some rolling blackouts for days and days at a time.”

This policy means Oklahoma gets its energy from many sources, including oil, natural gas, wind, solar and coal. With this approach, Oklahoma was able to vary consumption between energy sources, depending on weather conditions.

In addition to seeking federal aid, Stitt met with the Oklahoma delegation to discuss ways to address the McGirt decision, which affects police jurisdiction on Native American land in eastern Oklahoma under the Major Crimes Act.

“We’re up here also bringing awareness to the McGirt ruling, which is something that we think Oklahomans need to be aware of, and our federal delegation is working on that,” Stitt said.

“We’re hearing from district attorneys, we’re hearing from police departments all across eastern Oklahoma, that crimes are not being prosecuted, they’re being delayed (as a result of the ruling),” he said.

Moving forward, Stitt will continue to encourage the Oklahoma delegation to secure as many vaccines as possible for the state.

“We’re doing a better job than most any other state on how quickly we get those administered,” Stitt said. “We’ve set up some different (vaccination) pods in some historic minority communities to make sure that we are providing access all across the state.”

Gaylord News is a Washington-based reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.