Capitol Alert: AM Alert: Are California card rooms gearing up for a fight?

jwhite@sacbee.comJuly 9, 2013 

BB POKER LOOK

The state's card rooms appear to be gearing up for a fight, forming a new 501(c)4 association and hiring at least two Sacramento lobbying firms.

BRIAN BAER — Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

It's a slow week in the Capitol, with the Assembly on summer recess and the Senate fielding several absences. The Senate whipped through many non-controversial bills yesterday, though seven senators did not attend the floor session, and the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee couldn't vote because it was short a quorum.

Today, at least two senators are doing business out of state. Sen. Kevin de León will be making a presentation in Colorado, while Sen. Ricardo Lara is getting schooled in Cambridge, Mass. De León is addressing the Aspen Institute's "Financial Security Summit" to talk about his bill from last year that paves the way for retirement savings plans for private-sector workers. Lara is attending a program at the Harvard Kennedy School for senior executives in state and local government. He's one of 10 gay public officials who are attending the $12,000 training on a fellowship sponsored by the Victory Fund and the David Bohnett Foundation.

KNOW WHEN TO HOLD 'EM: The state's card rooms appear to be gearing up for a fight, forming a new 501(c)4 association and hiring at least two Sacramento lobbying firms. "Communities for California Cardrooms" is trying to make the case that the state's 88 card rooms are important economic drivers for their localities. The group has retained Darius Anderson's Platinum Advisors as well as Rodney J. Blonien and Associates. Does that mean there's movement on an internet poker bill that might not sit well with card rooms? "That has not been on our radar screen yet," said Austin Lee, a spokesman for the new group. But Internet poker could soon become important, he said, "because there are some competitive issues there."

IMMIGRATION: Unions and other Democratic groups are staging events across the state today to put pressure on Republicans in Congress to support the so-called path to citizenship as they consider the nation's immigration policies. They'll be rallying in Burbank, Bakersfield, Fresno, Arcadia and Orange County.

WEDDING BELLS: Capitol Alert sends its congratulations to lobbyist Jodi Hicks and political number-cruncher Paul Mitchell, who were married Friday in San Francisco City Hall by West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon. The couple originally planned to marry in 2008, but decided to wait until the state's ban on gay marriage was lifted. And that, conveniently for the newlyweds, came just before the Legislature's summer recess.

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