Your guide to California policy and politics
Emily Hoeven BY Emily Hoeven July 8, 2022
Presented by Climate-Smart Agricultural Partnership, New California Coalition, Dairy Cares and California Land Recycling Conference

Complex cast of players battles over sports betting

Californians in November will vote on the fewest statewide ballot measures in more than a century — heightening already intense attention on a pair of dueling initiatives to legalize sports betting.

Deciding whether or not to authorize sports betting in California may seem like a fairly straightforward proposition — no pun intended. But understanding the ins and outs of the measures will require voters to navigate their way through what Rob Stutzman, a political consultant working on one of the campaigns, described as “a confusing landscape” during a Thursday press conference.

Let’s dive into some of the complexities:

One ballot measure, Proposition 26, backed by some Native American tribes, would authorize in-person sports betting at tribal casinos and California’s four horse race tracks. It would also allow tribal casinos to offer roulette, craps and other dice games.

The other ballot measure, Prop. 27, backed by gaming giants including FanDuel, BetMGM and DraftKings, would permit large, well-established companies that partner with a Native American tribe to offer online sports betting.

But last week, two Native American tribes announced their support for Prop. 27 — and a third, the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe, followed suit this week, according to a ballot measure committee called Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support and funded principally by FanDuel, BetMGM and DraftKings.

  • Leo Sisco, chairperson of the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe: “Prop. 27 will provide us with economic opportunity to fortify our tribe’s future for generations and protect tribal sovereignty.”
  • Daniel Salgado, chairperson of the Cahuilla Band of Indians and part of a ballot measure committee called Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming funded principally by tribes, told me Thursday: “It’s completely their right” to support Prop. 27. “But in looking at holistically the rest of California’s tribes, and how they can benefit from it, the graph quickly drops off, right? There’s only gonna be a handful of tribes … that could directly benefit from entering into an agreement with the dozen or less operators that could qualify to be an operator and get a license here.”

Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming is a ballot measure committee focused solely on opposing Prop. 27, while the Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming is a ballot measure committee focused both on supporting Prop. 26 and opposing Prop. 27. The two committees are coordinating their No on 27 efforts, according to Stutzman, who is working with the Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming committee.

Meanwhile, yet another ballot measure committee called Taxpayers Against Special Interest Monopolies — funded principally by card rooms — has formed in opposition to Prop. 26. The committee alleged in a Wednesday press release that Prop. 26 would “guarantee tribal casinos a near monopoly on all gaming in California — adding exclusivity over roulette, craps and sports wagering to their current monopoly on slot machines — while weaponizing the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) so it can be used against tribal casino operators’ legally operating competition.”

Altogether, the four committees on both sides of both ballot measures have already raised more than $300 million, according to CalMatters data wizard Jeremia Kimelman. If all that money is spent, it will break the record $226 million spent in 2020 over a ballot measure to exempt gig-economy companies from a controversial California labor law.

Other election news you should know:


The coronavirus bottom line: As of Monday, California had 9,500,376 confirmed cases (+0.7% from previous day) and 91,795 deaths (+0.1% from previous day), according to state data now updated just twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

California has administered 77,630,160 vaccine doses, and 75.7% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.


1 Racial, economic gaps in health outcomes widen

George Dowell is vaccinated against COVID-19 at Umoja Health pop-up clinic in Oakland on Feb. 2, 2022. Photo by Marissa Leshnov for CalMatters
George Dowell is vaccinated against COVID-19 at a Umoja Health pop-up clinic in Oakland on Feb. 2, 2022. Photo by Marissa Leshnov for CalMatters

Californians of color saw a larger decrease in life expectancy than white residents during the pandemic, while the life expectancy gap between the state’s rich and poor residents widened, according to a study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers found that between 2019 and 2021, the life expectancy for Latino Californians fell by almost six years, compared to nearly four years for Black Californians, three years for Asian Californians and by nearly two years for white Californians, CalMatters’ Jeanne Kuang reports. Meanwhile, the life expectancy gap between residents living in California’s poorest 1% of census tracts and those living in the richest 1% swelled from 11.5 to 15.5 years.

The study comes soon after Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers passed a budget deal that opens Medi-Cal, the state’s health care program for the poor, to all income-eligible undocumented immigrants regardless of age. But Newsom nixed for the second year in a row the creation of a Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund that would funnel millions of dollars annually to community-based groups, clinics and tribal organizations, frustrating advocates who say the governor isn’t doing enough to address racial health disparities, the Los Angeles Times reports.

2 State invests in affordable housing for college students

Student housing at Fresno State on Feb. 8, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela for CalMatters
Student housing at Fresno State University on Feb. 8, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela for CalMatters

An estimated 3,800 more college students will soon have affordable campus housing after Newsom and lawmakers agreed to pump a portion of California’s $300 billion budget into a student program to ease a residential crisis gripping the state’s public universities and community colleges, CalMatters’ Mikhail Zinshteyn reports. This year, $1.4 billion is heading to 26 public campuses to build or expand dorms — though the extra beds represent a pittance of the true need for California’s hundreds of thousands of college students battling unstable housing. But even more affordable units could be on the way, a fact made all the more remarkable given that last year was the first time lawmakers approved major state funding to build students homes and ensure campuses keep the rents low, Mikhail writes.

3 A bevy of environmental news

Oil pumps in the Kern River Oil Field near Bakersfield on July 6, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local
Oil pumps in the Kern River Oil Field near Bakersfield on July 6, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local

Water and oil don’t mix — but they will in this newsletter item breaking down the latest California environmental news:

  • In a sign of California’s deepening drought, state regulators on Thursday expanded already sweeping water curtailments stretching from Fresno to the Oregon state line — ordering more cities and growers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed to stop pumping from rivers and streams. “The need to take these curtailment actions is in many ways unprecedented. And it reflects just how dry things have been in California over the last three years,” said Erik Ekdahl, deputy director of the water rights division for the State Water Resources Control Board. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power won a water battle with Mono County that local environmental groups fear could leave the future of tourism, wildlife and ranching at the mercy of the powerful agency.
  • Another way of measuring the severity of the drought: Northern California has essentially lost a year’s worth of rainfall in the past three years, Jan Null, a meteorologist at Golden Gate Weather Services, told the Los Angeles Times.
  • Lake Tahoe’s famously clear water is getting murkier, according to an annual report released this week by UC Davis. “Recent years have presented evolving and new threats to Lake Tahoe as climate warming, floods, droughts and wildfires impact the lake in ways that are not fully understood,” the study found.
  • The New York Times explored how California’s goal of phasing out oil drilling could impact Kern County, which produces 70% of the state’s oil. “Nowhere else in California is tied to oil and gas the way we are, and we can’t replace what that brings overnight,” said Ryan Alsop, the county’s chief administrative officer. “It’s not just tens of thousands of jobs. It’s also hundreds of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue that we rely on to fund our schools, parks, libraries, public safety, public health.” Although Kern County is also California’s largest supplier of wind and solar power, that brings in less tax revenue than fossil fuels.
  • Meanwhile, Fossil Free California vowed to reintroduce legislation next year that would force the state’s public pension systems to divest from fossil fuels. Last month, a powerful Democratic lawmaker blocked similar bills from advancing past a key committee.
  • And the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is set to hear on July 19 a resolution urging Newsom to revoke the safety certificate his administration granted PG&E, which allows the utility to recover wildfire costs from its ratepayers or a state insurance fund.

CalMatters Commentary

California lawmakers just opened the door to ending state’s abortion rights: The state Legislature made a huge mistake by giving anti-choice voters an opportunity in November to deny women’s reproductive rights granted for the past 50 years, argues Wendy Voorsanger, author of “Prospects of a Woman.”


Other things worth your time

Some stories may require a subscription to read

The California city where police investigations take so long, officers kill again before reviews are done. // ProPublica

L.A. supervisors poised to ask voters for power to remove sheriff. // Los Angeles Times

S.F. voters might decide on big election schedule change — over Mayor Breed’s objections. // San Francisco Chronicle

S.F. school district used $525,000 aimed at facility improvements to pay for legal fight over controversial mural. // San Francisco Chronicle

College or career? California invests $500 million in program that tackles both. // EdSource

New California youth jobs program accepting applications. // Sacramento Bee

New San Diego contractor proposal aims to fight wage theft, but will it slow housing projects? // San Diego Union-Tribune

The balance of power is shifting in the tech industry. // Mercury News

Historic strike at homeless nonprofit? Tenderloin Housing Clinic employees veer toward unprecedented work stoppage. // San Francisco Standard

OC Board of Ed challenges Newsom over COVID-19 emergency act again. // Orange County Register

Dozens of San Diego city workers face termination for failing to comply with COVID-19 testing requirement. // San Diego Union-Tribune

Judge issues narrow injunction in challenge to Santa Clara County’s employee vaccine order. // Mercury News

As the drug overdose crisis rages, city fails to collect data needed to fight it. // San Francisco Standard

Should L.A. and Long Beach get a new deal for their powerhouse ports? // Capital & Main

Pete Buttigieg announces California airports get $100 million. // Los Angeles Times

PG&E, Tesla launch program to tackle California grid reliability concerns. // Utility Dive

See you next week


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