East Bay Assemblymember Loni Hancock’s urban casino legislation is within two weeks of completion, and other, similar measures are nearing introduction into the state Senate.
The announcement of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plans for a massive casino in San Pablo—originally planned for 5,000 slot machines and now reduced by half—has triggered concerns from urban legislators around the state.
Hancock’s opposition is credited in part to what she sees as the negative economic and social impacts of a casino in the Bay Area metropolitan area, and in part to transportation impacts.
Many of her fellow Democrats are more ambivalent, said Robert Cheasty, a former mayor of Albany and an attorney and environmentalist, who has been active in the anti-casino movement.
Promised jobs during construction and permanent jobs inside the gambling parlors have generated strong support from unions, mainstays of financial and political support of Democratic politicians, he said.
The strongest opponents are coming from the Republicans, in stark contrast to their titular leader, Gov. Schwarzenegger, who has proposed five pacts with tribes guaranteeing the state a larger share of gambling revenues in exchange for regional monopolies.
Armando Viramontes, the Hancock staff member handling casino issues for the legislators, said her second measure, a proposed amendment to the state constitution covering urban casinos, will be submitted to fellow lawmakers in about a month-and-a-half.
That measure would ultimately require approval by the state’s voters before it could become the law.
As for the state senate measures, “word on the street is that they will be submitted to committees even before the assembly measures,” Cheasty said.