California players gathering, again, for internet poker

An internet poker player concentrates on his game in Nevada, which recently authorized online gaming. (Photo: Associated Press)

Rival interests are rolling the dice to legalize California’s internet gaming market, the most lucrative in the nation. At stake in the Capitol negotiations is a prize worth hundreds of millions of dollars — and maybe more. It’s not the first time. Efforts to legalize internet poker in California – where the revenue may top $1 billion annually over a decade — have failed repeatedly in the past.

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News

Legislative legacy: Big bucks for retirees’ health care

Cannery Row workers of the 1950s depicted in an artistic cutout. (Photo: Mr. Interior/Shutterstock)

The debt or “unfunded liability” state Controller John Chiang reported last week for state worker retiree health care, $72 billion, is larger than the unfunded liability for state worker pensions reported by CalPERS in April, $50 billion. It’s a legislative legacy, a debt for state worker services received by one generation that lawmakers decided to let the next generations inherit.

Opinions

Lobbying: A veteran advocate details his profession

Lobbyist Bev Hansen, left, and her fellow advocates in an Assembly corridor just days before the end of the 2014 session. (Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

While most people have heard of lobbyists and have a general idea of what the lobbying profession is about, few understand the breadth and complexity of this work and the important role that lobbyists play in developing state policy. When I first began lobbying, long-time relationships ruled the process, there was far more bipartisan collaboration, and individual legislators wielded enormous clout.

News

UC boots deadlines to disclose spending

Students at UC Berkeley walk for their diplomas during graduation ceremonies. (Photo: Richard Thornton)

Missing its own deadline last week, the University of California is now more than two months behind in disclosing to the state Legislature and the Department of Finance details of its expenses. The 10-campus university system first failed to meet an Oct. 1 deadline. It then submitted a seven-page preliminary account on Oct. 31 while requesting an additional six weeks to complete a final report. Those six weeks expired on Dec. 11.

News

It’s official: Voter participation hits record low

A Californian casts a ballot. (Photo: Vepar5 via Shutterstock)

The state’s official snapshot of the Nov. 4 general election depicts a politically disengaged populace with marginal interest in deciding who will govern. Less than a third of California’s eligible voters cast ballots on Nov. 4.

Opinions

Indirect land use change: ARB needs evidence, not theory

OPINION: When the Greek philosopher Aristotle presented fellow scholars with empirical evidence and scientific proof that the world was round—not flat—around 330 BC, he was called a lunatic and a charlatan. More than two millennia later, Sacramento has its own version of the Flat Earth Society — the California Air Resources Board (ARB). Only this time, the debate isn’t over the shape of the Earth; it’s over an obscure regulatory concept known as Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC), a component of the state’s Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS).

News

One-year extension for tax-free Internet service law

An illustration of the Internet and world wide web. (Ramcreations, Shutterstock)

Californians concerned about an internet service tax can breathe easier — at least for a year. The federal law known as the Internet Tax Freedom Act, or IFTA, was extended Wednesday. It has been extended several times since it was passed in 1998.

News

Historic moment for Black, Asian caucuses

Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, second from right, former chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, speaks at a 2013 Capitol ceremony. Others include Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, the new caucus chair, left; Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, right. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California’s Legislature has reached a historic moment for diversity. Latinos are still wining seats in the Assembly and Senate as demographics shift favorably in their direction, but this election year brought a surge in California’s other ethnic caucuses. The number of members in the Black Legislative Caucus has reached a historic high, as has the Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. The Latino Legislative Caucus fell by two members.

News

States eye CalPERS pension model

CalPERS' governing board during a meeting. (Photo: CalPERS board)

Calpensions: A California plan to give private-sector workers a state-run retirement savings plan is nearing $1 million in contributions, the goal set to pay for a market analysis to help design the program. Although the California plan is still in the formative stage, last week the Illinois legislature approved a plan based on the California model, even using the same name, “Secure Choice.”

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