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SPORTS PAGE: Yesterday, the official bus of the Padres didn't show up to their airport hotel to take them to AT&T Park. Team staff came up with an innovative solution. They flagged down an empty double decker tourist bus, got a police escort, and navigated Pride parade street closures to make it to the yard. Of course, the Giants won in 11. In fact, of California's five MLB teams, four had extra-inning games yesterday. Toda, the A's are in Detroit (12:10), Angels are in Kansas City (1:15), the Padres visit the Rangers in Arlington (5:05), and the Dodgers host the Cubbies (7:10/ESPN). All times PDT.
Happy Monday, Noonerific people! Here in SacTown, we're looking at a perfect day after a blistering weekend. High of 86 and a nice cool overnight. However, fires continue to burn in Lake, Shasta and Tehama counties.
It's a cray-cray week, as policy committees in the Legislature need to complete work on bills that have to go to a fiscal committee by Friday.
The Supreme Court delevered two decisions this morning--Abbott v. Perez (Texas redistricting) and Ohio v. American Express (antitrust re: credit card steering). That leaves four cases in the term, with the three biggies being Hawaii (travel ban), Janus (union dues), and NIFLA (CA regulation of pregnancy counseling centers). The fourth is the Florida v. Georgia water rights case, which could be relevant to California should the state eventually divide itself.
In the redistricting case alleging racial gerrymandering, 3 of the 4 congressional state legislative districts drawn under the supervision of a state court three-judge panel were upheld. The fourth was found to be drawn in a manner that suppresses African-American and Latino voting rights. The Texas legislature substantially changed the lines for HD90 (Fort Worth) in a manner affecting those rights from the plan approved by the state court.
That creates a challenge, as that means that you have to then redraw at least one contiguous district, and may require including others to balance out population after the problem district is rectified.
The oddest part of the opinions may be in the separate concurring opinion by Justice Thomas, which Justice Gorsuch joined. "I adhere to my view that §2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 does not apply to redistricting. Thus, §2 cannot provide a basis for invalidating any district, and it cannot provide a justification for the racial gerrymander in House District 90. Because the Court correctly applies our precedents and reaches the same conclusion, I join its opinion in full."
Beyond citations to previous concurrences, that's the extent of Thomas's concurring opinion.
The United States Department of Justice posts on its website:
Most of the cases arising under Section 2 since its enactment involved challenges to at-large election schemes, but the section's prohibition against discrimination in voting applies nationwide to any voting standard, practice, or procedure that results in the denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. Section 2 is permanent and has no expiration date as do certain other provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
Basically, the Department of Justice and two of the conservatives on the Court don't agree on the meaning of §2.
The Court is back tomorrow and likely Wednesday or Thursday.
The scarier tweet by Hasen may be "Just noting that the Texas redistricting cases were yet another opportunity for Justice Kennedy to side with liberals that he did not take. Feeling more to me like the end for him on the Court..."
The following counties report that they have completed ballot verification and tabulation: Alameda, Butte, Colusa, Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lassen, Mono, Orange, Sacramento, San Benito, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Trinity, and Yolo.
Of course, the largest numbers of ballots are in San Francisco (84,037) and Sonoma counties (68,880), which hasn't submitted an unprocessed ballots report since election night.
GAMESMANSHIP: The California Gaming Association, which represents card rooms and their associated vendors, has come out in opposition to the proposed initiative by Californians for Sports Betting, which was submitted for title and summary on June 11. This would be a November 2020 ballot initiative, if qualified. To be honest, I hadn't really looked at the initiative until now. The official proponent is Russell Lowery, a former legislative staffer and lobbyist, who now runs an association management and strategic consulting firm. He and I were at Davis at the same time.
Californians for Sports Betting has had a paid social media presence the last couple of months, but does not disclose the backers. It is not required to until (and if) there is a measure in circulation.
The interesting thing, from my read, is that the proposed constitutional amendment would actually open the door to full Nevada-style gaming in California on both tribal and non-tribal land. Here are the two changes proposed in the initiative:
Article IV, Sec. 19 is amended to:
Strike subsection: (e) The Legislature has no power to authorize, and shall prohibit, casinos of the type currently operating in Nevada and New Jersey.
Renumber the subsections, as there are currently two subsection (f)s.
Add subsection:(g) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the Legislature may authorize banking and percentage games including and not limited to sports wagering.
I'm guessing that's why the card clubs are opposing. Card clubs currently still thrive in the more urban areas that are not near tribal land. They are allowed because they are not house "banking" games, as the players are playing against each other and the house takes a set fee per hand.
The big players like Caesars, MGM, Las Vegas Sands (Sheldon Adelson), and Wynn (albeit no longer with Steve Wynn at the helm) don't really play in California. Caesars operates the Harrah's Resort Southern California in northern San Diego County for the Rincon Band of Lisueño Indians, and Station Casinos, which is a "locals" group of casinos in Vegas and along the Colorado River, operates Graton outside Rohnert Park.
But, you can imagine the interests that would like to land a Vegas-style casino (which many of the tribal ones in California are approaching) in municipal city limits. While the tribes have generally been good partners with local governments, although it's based on goodwill and not necessarily contractually binding. If they were in city limits, cities would get a share of sales and taxes and could levy transient occupancy taxes on hotel rooms.
Again, I have no idea who is lining up behind the proposed initiative, or against aside from the card clubs. As written, it goes far beyond sports betting. There are pros and cons for each of the constituencies--tribes would love to have sports betting, but wouldn't like the opening of non-tribal banked and sports betting. Vegas corporations could love access to non-tribal casino development in California, but are mindful that it would also eat into some, but not all, of their Vegas profits.
This measure, if moved forward as written, could be the granddaddy of all ballot measures come 2020. Political consultants must be licking their chops.
CARVING CALIFORNIA: For the Bee, Dale Kasler looks at the biggest issue raised by the proposal to spllt the state into three: How do you carve up the contracts and historic legal rights to the state's complicated water system.
It's complicated enough as it is. Now the water would have to wend its way from the new Northern California, home to Oroville and the Delta pumps, to the mostly inland state called Southern California and the coastal entity known as California.
"It's fraught with politics. Just imagine Southern California and Northern California, two new states, trying to figure out how much each would get," said [Barton] Thompson, the Stanford law professor. "There's no easy way of doing it."
Joe Mathews, no fan of Tim Draper's Three Californias plan, looks at other ways to carve up the state "more democratically."
POP! The Bee's Alexei Koseff looks at SB 872 (Budget and Fiscal Review), which I wrote about yesterday that would require local soda taxes to obtain a two-thirds vote. The bill is an attempt to reach a compromise to get backers of an initiative in the signature-gathering stage to pull their initiative before Thursday's deadline for the November ballot.
Already, a deal was reached to get proponents to pull a consumer privacy initiative, although a similar effort to reach a compromise on a rent control initiative failed. The rent control initiative has already qualified, so it is too late for it to be pulled from November.
Senate Budget was moving more trailer bills this morning, so don't be surprised if some more whoppers pop up as "implenting the budget," even as they affect serious policy but avoid the normal policy process.
GASSY: Joel Fox believes that the effort to repeal the SB 1 gas tax increase for road construction and fixes on the November ballot will be close, and I would agree. As of now, the 10-year, $52.4 billion, increase is quite unpopular. That's largely because little of the impact has been seen and supporters, particularly business and labor, haven't mobilized to explain the benefits yet. That likely won't happen until after the politically sleepy summer months. Will it be too late?
Some transportation agencies have started posting signs around projects identifying that they are made possible by gas tax funds, although it's unclear whether they are made possible by the increase in gas taxes that took effect November 1, 2017, or by the existing funding stream.
For KQED's California Report, Scott Shafer reports on the efforts by backers of the gas tax repeal to frame it as the new Proposition 13 effort:
"I think it’s very similar to Prop. 13," said political consultant Dave Gilliard, who's running the gas tax repeal campaign.
"There’s a lot of building anger among the shrinking middle class and those who have aspirations to make it into the middle class but can’t because of the high cost of living in California. And I think this ballot measure is an outlet for that anger."
. . .
However, Mark Baldassare, who heads the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), said the differences between then and now outweigh the similarities.
"Proposition 13 came at a time when Californians were very anxious, not just about the cost of housing but about the cost of everything," Baldassare said.
"There was a general concern about prices spiraling out of control and the economy being in a place where it was difficult for people to know what they were going to need to live on," Baldassare said, because of both inflation and the lack of controls on property tax increases.
By comparison, today's inflation rate is under 3 percent. And Baldassare said while housing prices have spiraled up quickly in recent years, leaving many unable to afford a home, "most Californians feel they are generally in good shape financially."
FROM THE DESK OF THE DEAN: George Skelton asks in the Times that, while the Legislature's actions to smooth the environmental review process for major league sports teams is likely justified, "But what about less glamorous, more modest housing developments? Or retail stores? Industrial parks? They’re still stuck with the pokey California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, which project opponents too often abuse to wrest financial concessions from developers, or to kill potential competition."
Currently, the two biggies are an arena proposal for the Los Angeles Clippers in Inglewood and a ballpark to move the Oakland A's out of the Coliseum.
TAXING MATTERS: For CALmatters, Dan Walters looks at the impact of the change in the SALT--state and local tax--deductability in federal income taxes that was capped as part of the tax bill, and whether it will drive high-income Californians out of state. The conclusion: we don't know yet.
UN-PRIDE: Also for CALmatters, Robbie Short writes about the debate over whether or not California should limit gay conversion therapy:
This isn’t the first time the Legislature has attempted to limit the practice in California. In 2012, California became the first state in the nation to bar mental health professionals from treating minors with conversion therapy when it passed a law that has since served as a model for similar laws in 12 other states. Low’s bill goes further by extending the law’s protections to include anyone engaged in a financial transaction, regardless of their age. The effect would be to make it harder for people to learn about or access conversion therapy.
CA43 (Inglewood): After Congresswoman Maxine Waters called over the weekend on Democratic activists to "create a crowd" around any member of the President's Cabinet they run across in public, she is feeling the heat from both sides. President Trump tweeted that Waters is "an extraordinarily low IQ person" while Politico's Louis Nelson writes that Nancy Pelosi gave waters a not-so-subtle nudge.
Waters is a regular firebrand and is not threatened in her safe district, which she obtained 72.2% of the vote in on June 5. Pelosi trying to reel her in has more to do with not needing footage that can be used in other, more competitive races.
#CAKEDAY: Light those candles for John Paul Drayer, Assemblyman Mike Gipson, and Larry Kaplan!
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Impeach Trump? Even Democrats Who Despise The President Can't Agree On A Strategy For The Midterm Election
Mark Z. Barabak @ latimes.com
Advocates like Tom Steyer see it as the only way to rouse Democratic voters who might otherwise sit out the midterm elections. But many Democrats fear it will antagonize Republicans and spur them to the polls, which is why some in the GOP welcome the discussion.
Trump Warns Maxine Waters: 'be Careful What You Wish For' - Politico
President Donald Trump seemingly threatened Rep. Maxine Waters after she said his administration's officials should be confronted. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo
What's Behind Kamala Harris' Efforts On Puerto Rico? | The Sacramento Bee
Emily Cadei @ sacbee.com
The go-to source for news on California policy and politics
Romney Vows To Speak Out Against Trump If Elected - Politico
But while Utah Senate candidate Mitt Romney has continued to speak out against President Donald Trump, his rhetoric directed at the president has been sparing. | George Frey/Getty Images
At The U.s.-mexico Border, Immigrant Mothers Seeking Asylum Prepare For Whatever May Come
Cindy Carcamo @ latimes.com
At the U.S.-Mexico border, immigrant mothers seeking asylum prepare for whatever may come
Waters scares Democrats with call for all-out war on Trump
With her constant calls for President Donald Trump to be impeached, Waters is making even members of her own party anxious.
California's Supreme Court Can Kill Cal-3 Quickly And Save Us All A Lot Of Trouble
Richard L. Hasen @ latimes.com
There are two central and related legal flaws with the measure that have to do with the rule that voters cannot "revise" rather than merely "amend" the state Constitution.
Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters calls for harassment of Trump officials
"The people are going to turn on them ... they're going to absolutely harass them,âÂÂ Waters told MSNBC.