In Arkansas, the lottery is one of the biggest issues of this legislative session.
Speaker of the House Robbie Wills filed the first bill related to the issue, but it didn't have much in it. That's all about to change.
The speaker has been working on this very large document for months; in fact, he says he's learned more about how lotteries run than he ever thought he would.
It's in two parts: how the lottery operates and how the scholarships are funded and distributed.
The operation part is finished. Before the end of the year, you could most likely be buying a lottery ticket in Arkansas. But some serious work needs to be done before hand.
Wills says there are no surprises in how the lottery will operate. "We're the 43rd state to have a state lottery, so we have 42 other states to learn from," he explains. "So what we want to do is copy what they've done that's worked and we want to avoid the pitfalls they've run across over the years."
The bill states lottery proceeds will fund scholarships to both two-year and four-year colleges and universities. It can include anything from an instant ticket to a multi-state game like Power Ball; and you must be 18 to play.
Speaker Wills hopes to have the more than 100-page bill filed next week. He expects it to quickly sail through committee and to pass both branches of the legislature.
Wills says, "Our goal is to have a bill ready for committees to hear in the next week or so, have that bill to the governor for his signature as quickly as possible and get the commission appointed and the lottery business up and running so we can be selling tickets by the end of the year."
The lottery would be run almost like its own business. They plan to set up a commission to do that. That commission will have nine members on it who will be in charge of making sure the lottery runs properly. The governor will appoint three members. The speaker of the House will appoint another three and the president pro tempore of the Senate will appoint the remaining three.
Members of the commission will have staggered terms of two, four and six years. No commission member will be able to serve more than two terms.