SACRAMENTO — The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria's plans to build one of California's largest casinos just outside Rohnert Park moved to the verge of fruition Thursday when the state Assembly approved a gambling agreement allowing work to start on the project.
On a 64-3 vote the Assembly ratified the agreement, called a compact, without discussion. That sends it on the federal government for final approval.
Voting no were Democratic Assemblymembers Michael Allen, who is running for re-election in the newly-formed 10th District, Mariko Yamada, running for re-election in the newly-formed 4th District, which includes Rohnert Park, and Jared Huffman, who is aiming to succeed Lynn Woolsey in the newly-drawn 2nd Congressional District.
Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata, voted yes. His redrawn district will include Santa Rosa.
The compact, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown May 27, was approved by the state Senate Monday. It has moved speedily through the Legislature without much drama. Experienced observers originally predicted it could be a six month process for what Huffman once said would be one of the most controversial compacts ever. Instead it took little more than a month and Legislative opposition was token.
The development leaves just one governmental hurdle for the tribe before it can start work on the project. That is approval of the compact by the federal Department of Interior, which has 45 days to ratify or reject it. Experienced observers of Indian law and tribal gambling said after the Senate vote that the department's approval was a near certainty.
Casino opponents said this week that they now would focus their efforts on challenging the accuracy of environmental reports done for the project.
Tribal officials were not available for comment after the vote. Aaron Read, the tribe's lobbyist, declined to comment.