The big business of Indian gaming could be a controversial issue in California this fall.
A proposal from two Central Valley tribes to build casinos away from their existing land was approved by the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown last year, but it will ultimately be up to voters whether that agreement sticks. Opponents of the projects, who have said the “off-reservation” casinos set a bad precedent for California, placed a referendum on the November ballot that will give citizens a final say on the state law, setting up a potentially costly battle between opposing gambling interests.
And that might be just the start, according to Stand Up for California!, a gaming policy organization that qualified the November referendum. The group plans to release a report at 11 a.m. warning that new federal rules lowering the criteria for recognizing Native American tribes could lead to a rapid increase in casinos in California, negatively impacting property tax revenues and local communities.
Stand Up for California! was previously involved with a referendum effort in 2008 to stop major casino expansions for four Southern California tribes, though voters upheld all of them.
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IN MEMORIAM: Former Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, a Democrat from Redwood City who took a lead on environmental issues during his three terms in the Legislature, died last week at the age of 70 after a three-year battle with brain cancer. A native of New York City who attended UC Berkeley and Stanford University, Ruskin served for a nearly a decade on the Redwood City Council, including two years as mayor, before running for Assembly in 2004. He defeated Republican Steve Poizner in one of the costliest legislative races in state history and served until 2010, when he was termed out. A funeral service for Ruskin takes place at 10 a.m. at Temple Beth Jacob in Redwood City.
OFF TRACK: As part of a national “week of action” on crude oil rail transport, Assembly Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, will join climate change activists from 350 Sacramento to commemorate the 47 people killed following a train explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, last year. The event, noon at the Federal Rail Administration building on I Street, also serves as protest against oil by rail in California, which has surged over the last year, raising concerns about public safety and transparency. Dickinson is sponsoring a bill that would require companies to provide more information about their oil-carrying trains to emergency responders.
IN THE NAVY: Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, will be spending his summer recess completing his annual reserve training with the U.S. Navy. Gorell, an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve who was recently promoted to the rank of commander, begins three-and-a-half weeks of training in space-based intelligence operations today in Colorado.