Faces mountain of resistance
The Democrat leader in the Alabama House is calling for the Legislature to use its election-year session to approve a state lottery.
Republican leaders say Rep. Craig Ford is carrying a losing ticket for 2014.
Ford, D-Gasden, said a state lottery could produce $250 million annually for education purposes and keep money at home that is now going to lotteries in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.
"That is why I plan to propose a lottery bill during the 2014 legislative session," he said Monday.
Any lottery bill likely would be considered by the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee, where House Majority Leader Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, serves as vice chairman.
Hammon said Alabama residents have said repeatedly they don't want a lottery, beginning with the state lottery referendum that failed in 1999 to Ron Sparks' campaign for governor in 2010.
"Just four years ago, the Democratic nominee for governor made the creation of a statewide lottery his one and only issue, and he was soundly defeated in that race," Hammon said.
He said the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee plans to spend the 2014 session considering bills that will create good jobs rather than a lottery.
House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said a lottery proposal is a failed idea from the past.
"We are working to put more money into the pockets of hardworking Alabamians, while Democrats want to take it out," he said.
Ford said the bill he plans to introduce in the session that starts Jan. 14 would set aside $50 million of the proceeds to hire security officers for schools. The remainder would be used for college or vocational school scholarships for students who make the "A-B" honor roll.
"A state lottery can open the doors of opportunity for thousands of children in Alabama and lighten the burden on thousands more," he said.
If the Legislature passes a bill to create a state lottery, it would still have to be approved by Alabama voters in a statewide referendum, likely during the general election on Nov. 4, 2014.