Gov Brown is poised to decide whether to allow off-reservation tribal casinos, a decision that could have a profound impact on California's gaming landscape.
From Greg Lucas in California's Capitol: "Gov. Jerry Brown will decide August 31 whether two California Indian tribes can open two sprawling casinos not located on their lands."
"The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians in Mariposa County and the Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians in Butte County would be the first California tribes allowed to operate casinos not located on their tribal lands. Granting them that privilege could lead to future Indian casinos sited closer to urban areas."
"The U.S. Department of Interior has already approved the request of the 1,800-member North Fork Rancheria and the 800-member Enterprise Rancheria. North Fork wants to build a 2,500-slot, 200-room hotel near Madera. Enterprise proposes a 1,700-slot and 170-room hotel near Oroville."
California is on the hunt for Internet companies that sell goods but don't collect the sales tax, and the state Board of Equalization is adding auditors and lawyers to help with the crackdown.
From the LAT's Marc Lifsher, Andrea Chang and Ricardo Lopez: "State tax collectors are preparing to crack down on renegade Internet merchants who don't collect sales taxes, and nearly 100 new state auditors, lawyers and other specialists are being hired to help over the next three years."
"The effort comes at a time when state and local governments are scrambling for money after cutting billions of dollars from budgets and trimming public services. The governor has asked voters in November to approve a hike in sales and income taxes. The new enforcement effort is expected to bring in an estimated $317 million in its first full year, and even more in subsequent years as online shopping grows."
"Officials will be enforcing a controversial law passed last year that expands the kinds of online retailers that are required to collect California sales taxes on Internet purchases. Currently, those taxes range from 7.25% to 9.75%, depending on where residents live."
Some of the money that was uncovered in a $54 million cache of cash at the state Parks Department is going to be used to help keep the state parks open. Some $20 million, at least initially, has been set aside for the purpose.
From the AP's Don Thompson: "AB1478 also imposes a two-year moratorium on any parks closures. Senators passed the bill, 25-12, in response to a scandal in the parks department and sent it back to the Assembly for a final vote."
"Auditors found nearly $54 million hidden in two special funds, even as 70 parks were threatened with closure in July because of budget cuts. Most parks ultimately stayed open with the help of local governments and community organizations that contributed before the money was discovered."
"The bill creates a dollar-for-dollar matching fund to encourage communities to continue helping local parks."
From Kathryn Baron in EdSource: "One day after a survey warned that budget cuts have caused an unprecedented drop in enrollment at California’s community colleges, the state Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill that could bring the first significant reforms in more than a decade to community colleges."
"The Student Success Act of 2012, by Democratic Senators Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach and Carol Liu of La Cañada Flintridge, received nearly unanimous bipartisan support. It would give new students more support early on, including orientation and better academic counseling, in an effort to improve dismal graduation rates. Only about a third of community college students earn an associate degree or a certificate, or transfer to a four-year college within six years..."
"The bill stems from the work of the Student Success Task Force, a panel established by the Legislature that developed 22 recommendations aimed at improving completion rates for students through a combination of financial and academic incentives, as well as reprioritizing resources."
Speaking of education, a controversial bill targeting teachers' evaluations won't go before lawmakers after all on the final day of the session.
From the Bee's Jim Sanders: "Hotly contested legislation to create a new statewide teacher evaluation system was shelved Thursday night, one day before the Legislature adjourns for the year."
"Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes made the decision after learning that there would not be time for a public hearing on last-minute amendments."