Posts Tagged ‘Jose Menendez’

Texas Primed for Gambling Push

by , Feb 25, 2011 | 3:17 pm

source: Texas Tribune

Hungry for Change? Texans apparently are ready for laws that keep gaming dollars in their cash-starved state.

Gaming legislation will again be on the agenda in Pokerati’s beloved home state of Texas — as it has been pretty much continuously since the days when “blue laws” prohibited us from shopping on Sundays. But this year Texas is friggin’ near-broke and public opposition to gambling is minimal, making hopes for passage of new gaming laws more promising.

A poll of registered voters taken earlier this month (conducted by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune) indicates 56 percent support full-on casino resorts in Texas, and fewer than 20 percent oppose any expansion of gambling or want to ban it altogether. A year ago, these numbers stood at 40 and 31 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are wrangling with one of the biggest budget deficits in the country and the need for contentious cuts to education, Medicare, veterans affairs, prisons … and just about every other department in an effort to close a budget shortfall estimated at $11-to-27 billion — bigger than any the state has ever had to face.

But before poker players get too excited about Texas’s economic woes going into the 2011 legislative session… with elevated hopes for gaming-law success (and fully legalized poker) also comes heightened opposition from well-monied morality-driven lobbies, and possibly cut-throat intra-ideological competition over whose bill gets the biggest push. And that doesn’t even begin to address the uncertain but possibly critical stake of the Chickasaw …


Texas Poker Bill, Death of

by , May 18, 2009 | 11:45 am

Watching this almost makes me wanna cry. Do you realize how close we were to turning Texas race tracks into full-fledged poker rooms? I don’t think you do! But alas, in the end we were killed by something akin to an inverse filibuster … and all in the same week that Annie Duke got slowrolled on Celebrity Apprentice …

In what is arguably nearly as compelling drama, in the above vid Rep. Jose Menendez delivers last rites to HB 222 — but not before being ridiculed and taunted with terrible poker metaphors (delivered in practically Corky-like fashion) from the representatives who were ready to lead the fight against this bill on the floor.

While Texas poker players pushing for fully legal Texas Hold’em did not get the House vote they were looking for, Menendez’s address does mark the first time the game was ever made a real issue in the Texas Legislature. Having achieved such footnote status in the historical almanac, the insinuation on where we go from here is that next time both sides should gear up for a full-on battle spirited debate over a bill looking to create California-style card rooms … in a year where the threat of a veto carries less weight, no less.

HB 222 Officially, Really, Dead

by , May 14, 2009 | 4:19 pm

Rep. Menendez has officially killed HB 222 on the floor of the Texas House, knowing that the Gov. won’t pass. He was able to spend a few minutes discussing why it should be allowed to proceed, only to be interrupted by several bad poker-related puns.

RE: Political WTF in Texas (3)

Menendez explains WTF

by , May 8, 2009 | 4:28 pm

Rep. Jose Menendez stepped away briefly from the House floor to talk me off of tilt learn-me-some political sportsmanship and let concerned Pokeratizens know that no, HB 222 isn’t dead yet … but he may well have to put it to sleep if we can’t out-social-network Texas’ well-heeled right-wing-conservative power base. Why this isn’t proving to be a simple yay or nay, according to Menendez and my hastily scrawled (with an extra-large Sharpie) phone-call interview notes:

    [first minute of convo not recorded nor written down]

  • “We’ve got to have a green light from the governor, because if the guys on the floor know he’s going to veto it, I won’t be able to get enough Rs and even conservative Ds.”
  • “If we get to it today — and it looks like it won’t be until Monday” … postpone for 12 hours.”
  • Bringing up “dead bill” = bad process — use up valuable HouseRep time for bill destined for veto, thereby preventing colleagues from getting to their bills.
  • “You have to consider other legislation … I’m not going to lose years of good will built up [with members of both parties] in the House …”
  • need it to get something past [sic.]
  • still have/need [illegible … something shot at … casino bill] … 100 votes [something with a C] … next year].
  • “can’t be pissing people off.”
  • light up the governor’s office with message that I’m a Texas poker player who votes and want to be able to play safely and legally in Texas.
  • don’t lie.

Ahh, right, OK … I think I get it. May need to do a follow-up to clarify some of the above.


Political WTF in Texas?

Bad river card on its way?

by , | 12:31 pm

I’m following the Texas House here.(Boring, not fun.) And all I can say is I think I’m heartbroken before we’re even rollin’.

Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio), do we even know you anymore? Supposedly Gov. Rick Perry has re-re-changed his position … and so now Menendez is going to not even let the House have their vote? I honestly just don’t understand. We weren’t getting out of that damn calendars committee without his tacit thumbs-up. We got that, no? But now it’s gone? And even if so … why not force him to veto it … put his political aspirations on the line with international press CardPlayer Italia watching?

I know I’m just the political sophomore rookie here, but would he really be willing to go against more than 2/3 of the general voting populace?

With all these last-minute changes and unusual moves … someone is clearly on tilt here. Our opponents ( launched an all-out assault last night and are fighting har right nowo, so if you want to send any emails — even Jose himself might need a reminder of what we’re here for and who he’s supposed to be representing — you know the drill:

UPDATE: Don’t spam Jose … he’s very busy right now and reminds us that no, it’s not dead, but the people do need to turn the governor now. Rick Perry’s email:

I’m going to add to my CC … just by chance that gets to him more directly.

Poker Wars Report: Texas Frontlines

by , May 7, 2009 | 9:43 am

This is the week … that’s what I’ve hearing from people in Austin and DC regarding legalized racetrack (and Indian Casino) poker in Texas. All seem to be staying on message, too, because that’s the same thing they were saying last week.

But HB 222 isn’t just suffocating at the bottom of the Calendars Committee inbox, supposedly … on the contrary, there’s all sorts of crazy buzzing about. “Chatter” has intensified but gone more private … not much Twittering, just lots of fights and diplomacy on secure Blackberry lines. What I’m picking up via short-wave radio:

It has something to do with the Big Casino bill (also sponsored by Rep. Menendez), which is sitting in the same inbox waiting to be kicked to either the House floor or curb; Gov. Perry (anti-gambling) vs. Spkr. Straus (pro-gambling) drawing either swords or lots, not sure which; talk of a special session, or Secession; month of November comes into play; PPA ready to deploy troops, ammo … time is or is not of essence; something about big games …

Vote on Texas poker bill on Friday House calendar

by , | 9:15 am

For those wondering when HB 222 would make the Texas House calendar, this coming Friday is your lucky day. I’ll leave it to Dan or other Texas legislation experts to interpret the fact that it’s buried on the calendar, but it looks like it’s made some progress, so fingers crossed poker fans

Legislative Pulse …

by , Apr 9, 2009 | 5:13 pm

First, a link from the San Antonio Express-News showing that our efforts to legalize poker in Texas are taking hold:

Legalized poker rooms in Texas closer to a reality

And in Florida, which is in the midst of its own mini-poker boom after legalizing the game a couple years ago, is continuing to improve the game, pushing forth legislation to raise cash-game limits and allow for bigger buy-in tourneys:

Florida House plan raises poker stakes

What’s particularly interesting about Florida isn’t so much the poker, but the tax-tweaking related to it. And with that, the ussual opposition seems to be taking a different tack:

The House plans to expand poker and lower the tax rate are paired with an effort to shut down blackjack tables at Seminole resorts.

Fellow Republicans in the state Senate, though, have a different vision. To maximize revenues, senators want to authorize full casinos at Seminole resorts, complete with craps and roulette, as well as blackjack at South Florida tracks and bingo-style slots at facilities across the state. The Senate goes even farther than the House, allowing no-limit poker wagering.

Meanwhile, a pretty good summary of gambling-related initiatives in Texas comes from an email sent out by our opposition in the Christian Life Coalition. And the poli-blogger who subscribes acknowledges that while he is plausibly opposed to much that has to do with expanded gambling in the state, he still endorses Jose Menendez’s HB 222:

Of all the various gambling expansion options I’ve seen, allowing for poker seems to me to be the most sensible and least potentially harmful. Plus, as a bridge player who has had the chance to play for money legally, I think poker is a legitimate game of skill and should be treated as such. In fact, poker players in Pennsylvania and South Carolina recently won court rulings that agreed poker is a game of skill. As such, it’s not clear to me that the AG’s opinion would agree with the CLC about the inherent level of chance here. Of course, I Am Not A Lawyer, and Lord only knows what Greg Abbott will do.

Yeah. People are starting to get it. Go Poker!

Texas Poker Bill Update

With easy-email help from a Pokeratizen

by , Apr 3, 2009 | 9:08 am

I got forwarded a response to a constituent from Rep. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) regarding what comes next for poker legislation in Texas, and I thought I’d share it with the rest of you, as we all continue to learn a thing or two about how the political process works:

Last session the Poker I filed got as far as any had before in Texas this one is ahead of where we were last session so the odds are a little better at this time. That having been said the Leg. Is made up of 150 Reps. and 31 Senators and if I can convince a majority of them to pass the bill I still have to have the bill written so that the Gov. won’t veto it. What I’m trying to say is that we are a long way from home and we may have to make changes to the bill just to get us to have a safe and legal place to play.

Thanks for writing me but importantly write your Rep., Senator and the Gov. Letting them know that you support this and maybe even the full Resort Casino bill that I filed as well.
Jose Menendez
Thank You,
Jose Menendez
Please excuse typos sent from Blackberry

So there we have it. I’ll be honest with you … when it comes to financing the efforts to get these bills through, poker isn’t very well funded. So that means we’re left fighting the fight about as grass-roots as it gets. (The good side is that we will be less encumbered by outside interests when it comes to whipping the language into shape.) To help out the grass-roots effort, Jeff (in Austin?) has updated his website to make it easier for you to reach out and speak to your representatives about why fully legal poker in Texas matters to you, and why it should matter to them.

Here’s the new helper website for your responsible citizen efforts. Be sure to bookmark it, as we will need to tap into this resource over the coming month-and-a-halfish.

RE: Texas Poker Bill up for Committee Vote Today (6)

by , Mar 27, 2009 | 8:57 am

As we know, HB 222 actually isn’t up for a vote until next week … but it’s looking strong. Here’s The Dallas Morning News’ take on yesterday’s meeting:

Texas Poker Players Willing to Ante Up Tax Money for Legalization

As is always the case in these mainstream media stories, check the comments for a pulse of the people. In this situation, so far, there are 14 comments supporting the bill (with 41 thumbs-ups), and 0 against (with 1 thumbs-down).

Could this thing be any more obvious? It’s a big matter of technicalities and lobbying and money and stuff at this point — along with some political infighting between proponents of the bigger casino bill and a horse-racing slot machine bill (which has been unsuccessfully fought for for about, oh, like 12 years now?). For good measure, Jose Menendez did extend an olive branch to the horse-track people Wednesday, letting them know that poker is indeed happy to help their bottom line — and you can look at other states where bringing poker rooms into the race tracks to get a sense of the many millions they do bring in.

That’s all good and cool — go horse-track poker! — but at the same time, why does politics have to be so hard (and expensive)? I’ve got a solution that should save everyone time and money, and could fit easily on just about any ballot for anything:

Poker in Texas
☐ Yes
☐ No

Isn’t politics at least in part about representing the will of the people? Because we already clearly know the answer to the above question.

RE: Texas Poker Bill up for Committee Vote Today (5)

by , Mar 25, 2009 | 4:02 pm

Oops … sorry for the vote-tease … but hey, I’m just a political rookie sophomore. I thought the Committee vote on Texas HB 222 was today … but they have put it off for a week, so the full committee can vote on it and Menendez and friends can fix some alcohol tax language.

But I think we (Texas poker people) did a good job representing. Now we just wait. (I think.)

RE: Texas Poker Bill up for Committee Vote Today (4)

Live-Blogging the HB 222 Committee Hearing

by , | 3:02 pm

Just trying to move the convo here to keep it fresh.

Click here to watch the hearing live.

* Ooh, he read an email to former special counsel Royce Poinsett right off the bat — letting him know that Texas already sees poker as a game of skill, and therefore doesn’t need a Constitutional Amendment — hey, we went to high school together! Fun!

* Wow — Michigan charity revenue up from 7 million to 72 million … and their population is way less than ours!

* Hey, they mentioned the emails! Woot!

* Ooh, now they’re talking about actual card rooms! OK, they want Menendez to clarify the licensing issues. Fair enough.

“The definition in the bill is too broad.” … hmm, actually I agree.

* Lavigne in Austin is up! Representing the PPA!

* Lavigne is making some points we’ve brought up right here! About pizza and beer.

* Rob Kohler from Christian Life Commission is speaking against. Boo! Boo!

He’s got three issues:

1. not a game of skill
2. electronic tables need a class 3 gaming license
3. ???


Do You Want Fully Legal Poker in Texas? (Yes.)

Then the action’s on us …

by , Jan 19, 2009 | 1:31 pm

A new political season/era is about to kick off. The PPA seems to have things moving in the right direction on the federal/online front and are kinda busy in Kentucky. So Pokerati is taking it upon itself to move things forward in our beloved homeland of Texas, where we have a very real chance of finally legitimizing Texas Hold’em.

Right now, it’s time to build up the pot …

In 2007 (the Texas Lege meets bi-annually), we sent hundreds of emails, and they had a great impact. So this year, as the 81st Texas Legislative Session gets underway, we want to start early making sure the poker playing minority are indeed a priority … or at least on the VIP guest list as all the other important stuff (health care, education, jobs, etc.) gets bumpin’.

The Texas House has a new Speaker, Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), and by all accounts, he may be more open minded about the game we love than his predecessor. Meanwhile, Rep. Jose Mendendez (D-San Antonio) has filed HB 222, which is essentially the same poker bill as last time (one that engaged readers like you had a say in crafting) … a lot of the right pieces are in place. We have more information than last time and generally more favorable table conditions. It’s on us, though, literally, because like who else is gonna do it, to kick it all in to gear. That’s how things work in politics — or so I’ve begun to see.

What you can do, at this stage, is simply send emails as a concerned, patriotic Texas citizen. Even if you’re not from the great state that hates little more than losing to Oklahoma, it would help your friends here to let a few important people know how much you would love coming here with fully legal poker as an option. We need to show the people in Austin that we are driven to this call to action not just by our Texas-size love of poker and personal freedoms, but also because we strongly believe this is a matter of sensible government — recognizing that this bill brings jobs, security, tax benefits, and other goodness to each and all of us.

Cool? You down? Then be sure to spend a few minutes of click-time today or tomorrow to mail new Speaker Straus, Rep. Menendez, and the PPA too. Let them know this issue is important to you. And though I may regret this request, feel free to CC me if you’re so inclined, as I’d like to take a pulse on what really matters to poker-loving Texans and Texas-loving pokerers.

The email addresses to hit:

Your emails really do make a difference, especially when part of a coordinated effort. At least that’s what I’ve come to believe … and hey, I’m practically a political sophomore now! I’ll have some talking points up later. Regular readers pretty much know them already — I know I trust you all to make the case. In the meantime, seriously, let’s do this. It’s like top-pair-top-kicker with the nut-flush draw and a gutshot — booh-yah! — and from early position the best move we could make is to lead out.

Legalize Poker in Texas, Take 2

by , Nov 24, 2008 | 4:44 am

Dave in Grapevine (from the Yestbay1 poker blog) wrote in on Friday with a reminder that the Texas Legislature is about to be back in session (the state congress meets every other year there) and our second go-round with Make Poker Legal is starting strong out of the gate:

Hey Dan,

I heard a news story on the radio way home today which you or someone else on the Pokerati staff is probably all over already, but I thought I would e-mail you about it anyway.

It appears that Jose Menendez has (re-)introduced his bill to legalize poker in Texas. I found a couple of links to news blurbs about it, although nothing of much substance:

These short articles are all pretty much the same thing, with quotes from Menendez about his reasons for the bill.

I look forward to reading more about it on as things develop.

Dave Westbay
Grapevine, TX

Thanks much, Dave, for the heads-up. These articles may not be big, but session isn’t even underway yet, so it’s a good sign that poker is already getting early ink and airtime from the non-poker press. Indeed, Pokerati can’t help but to be all over it as the legislation moves forward. We (Texas poker people) got further than expected in 2007 … and if we can successfully punch Menendez’s bill through this time (re-branded as the “Poker Gaming Act of 2009”) … well, hey, Vegas has been nice, but you can expect this not-so-humble little poker blogger to return home posthaste from self-imposed exile.