Elk Grove News.NET
California State Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D - Elk Grove) has introduced urgency legislation for the compact between the State of California and the Wilton Rancheria.
On Wednesday, July 19, Gov. Jerry Brown announced he had reached an agreement with the Wilton Rancheria on their proposed gaming facility in Elk Grove. Following Brown's action, the compact needs approval from the State Senate and Assembly.
One day following the release of Brown's compact, on Thursday, July 20, Cooper introduced Assembly Bill 1606. The bill was first introduced in February as edible marijuana legislation but was stripped of that language and replaced with the compact.
The legislation says "This bill would ratify the tribal-state gaming compact entered into between the State of California and the Wilton Rancheria, executed on July 19, 2017. The bill would provide that, in deference to tribal sovereignty, certain actions related to that compact are not projects for purposes of CEQA."
The bill is being introduced as urgency legislation and would "take effect immediately." To be approved, the compact requires a two-thirds majority in both legislative bodies and is exempt from a referendum.
Cooper, who is in his second term as an Assemblymember representing the Ninth Assembly District, previously served on the Elk Grove City Council for 14 years. Unlike current Elk Grove City Councilmembers who are reticent in their support of the casino, Cooper has unabashedly supported the gaming facility.
At his town hall meeting held at Elk Grove City Hall on Tuesday, July 18, when asked about the casino Cooper said that it would be good for the community. Cooper did not directly answer a question on whether or not Elk Grove residents should have a say on the casino, which is not uniformly supported by the community.
"The one thing about the casino, it will bring jobs," he told the audience. "There's a lot of good things about having a casino."
Interestingly, when discussing the recently enacted gas sales tax hike at the meeting, Cooper said he felt the Democrats would probably lose the super majorities they currently have in both legislative bodies. Should AD 1606 be approved in the upcoming session, it will be in effect immediately and will pave the way for the compact to be sent to the U.S. Secretary of Interior for action within 45 days of receipt.
According to the State's glossary of legislative terms, urgency legislation is defined as "A bill affecting the public peace, health, or safety and requiring a 2/3's vote for passage. An urgency bill becomes effective immediately upon enactment."