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Alabama lawmakers weigh in on lottery

AlabamaAlabama: Alabama lawmakers weigh in on lottery

MONTGOMERY — Several Montgomery-area lawmakers say they could support letting Alabamians decide whether the state has a lottery, and whether Powerball and Mega Millions tickets are sold locally.

But they say they're unlikely to support any effort to allow electronic games at several sites around the state.

The Legislature returns to the Statehouse on Monday to debate lottery legislation and likely other possible revenue fixes for the state. More money for the state Medicaid Agency in 2017 is a priority.

Besides a lottery proposal, Gov. Robert Bentley's office last week said his call — the official list of items to be addressed in the session — would include the dividing up of the state's $1 billion BP settlement. The call won't be released until Monday, his office said.

Bentley's three-page lottery proposal calls for the creation of a lottery commission, appointed by the governor, and participation in interstate games like Powerball, as well as state-run games. He's said it would generate about $225 million a year, and he wants it dedicated to the General Fund.

A competing bill to be introduced by Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, would allow for the lottery as well as electronic games at four dog tracks in the state. He's said his proposal will generate more money than Bentley's, and revenue from the electronic games would be available sooner than lotto money.

McClendon wants $100 million of the revenue to go in the state education budget.

Longtime lawmaker Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, on Friday said the chances of the Legislature reaching an agreement on a lottery seemed unlikely, and the BP settlement was a better bet for passage.

Any lottery proposal would have to be approved by voters. To get it on the Nov. 8 ballot, lawmakers would have to agree on a proposal by Aug. 24. And because it's a constitutional amendment, it has to pass both chambers on a three-fifths vote.

Montgomery-area lawmakers last week were asked what they would and wouldn't support in lottery or gaming legislation.

Some said they'd let the people vote on a "simple" lottery bill. Others said they wouldn't support any type of lottery or gaming bill. None wanted the electronic games in McClendon's bill.

Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville

Greer said he would vote for a lottery bill if the revenue isn't earmarked.

"But I want a guarantee there isn't a lot of overhead expenses," he said. "Let's get the money where it needs to go."

Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia

"I support the people having the right to vote on a lottery; however, the details are what is going to lead me to vote yes or no," Black said. Those details include how the money will be spent.

"Just saying (revenue will go to the) General Fund is too broad for me; you're going to have to say which agencies."

He'd also prefer the education budget see at least some of that revenue.

And he'd like a "clean" lottery bill without the video lottery terminals in McClendon's proposal.

Rep. Phillip Pettus, R-Greenhill

Pettus said the majority of people he's talked to want to be able to vote on a lottery.

"They don't want gaming, they want a simple lottery bill," he said. "From what I've read (about Bentley's proposal) I think I could vote to let the people vote."

Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence

Melson is on the Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee, which will get the first vote on any lottery legislation.

He has said he's not interested in expanding gaming in the state, but he'd consider sending a lottery referendum to the public if lottery revenue was dedicated to the General Fund.

Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Tuscumbia

Stutts said he'll have to see the proposals in writing, but based on what he's read so far, probably won't support any of them.

"I don't think a lottery fixes any of our fundamental problems, and I'm opposed to just putting more money in a broken system," Stutts said.

He said projections show that Medicaid's costs are going to continue to grow and in a few years "we're right back where we started."

Meanwhile, there are "moving parts" in the conversation about using the state's BP money to shore up budget shortfalls.

Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton

"I'm opposed to the lottery," Johnson said. "I'm probably the only one who tells you that straight out."

Johnson is vice chairman of the House General Fund committee. His district includes eastern Franklin County.

He said he understands the state loses some revenue when people buy lottery tickets across state lines, but thinks selling the tickets here would mean people have less money to spend on other things, which would impact tax revenues.

"We'd go from dollars going out of state on a small scale to dollars going out of our local economies on a large scale," he said. "And it's coming from people who can least afford it, as a rule."

He sees expanded gaming as a deal breaker from some lawmakers who would otherwise support a lottery bill.

About the BP money, Johnson said it's possible that a compromise is reached on how much of the money is spent on debt repayment, and how much is spent on infrastructure in south Alabama.

"Is there perfect harmony on the BP settlement, no?" he said. "Could a majority come to some agreeable term? I'd say that's a possibility.

"Given enough time, sometimes you work things out."

TimesDaily, Lottery Post Staff

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7 comments. Last comment 4 months ago by TnTicketlosers.
Page 1 of 1
mypiemaster's avatar - 2015021003pileofcash

United States
Member #141034
April 2, 2013
1408 Posts
Posted: August 14, 2016, 12:26 pm - IP Logged

Enough already. Just get the darn lottery and if you don't like to play don't play. Sounds like some people trying to legislate morality.

Seek and ye shall find -Matt. 7:7 ...Ask and ye shall receive -John 16:24 ...Give and it shall be given unto you -Luke 6:38 ...Be careful what you ask for!!! -Mypiemaster 1:1

Having Money Solves Problems That Not Having Money Creates Yes Nod ****John Carlton****

    TnTicketlosers's avatar - Lottery-065.jpg

    United States
    Member #71120
    February 19, 2009
    1209 Posts
    Posted: August 14, 2016, 6:17 pm - IP Logged

    IM a Tennessean and I say Yes Yes Yes.

      United States
      Member #163189
      January 22, 2015
      668 Posts
      Posted: August 14, 2016, 7:32 pm - IP Logged

      They'll mess around and then the legislative session will be over with and forgotten about.

        music*'s avatar - nw bookeep.jpg
        Happy California
        United States
        Member #157856
        August 2, 2014
        1511 Posts
        Posted: August 14, 2016, 7:45 pm - IP Logged

        People Power !!! Let the voters have a voice.

         I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, rich is better. 

         Attributed to Joe E. Lewis and others

          MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
          Beautiful Florida
          United States
          Member #5709
          July 18, 2004
          20108 Posts
          Posted: August 15, 2016, 9:26 am - IP Logged

          All these Representatives Squabbling over what they think. I think they need to get out in the real world and see what's happening.

          It seems by some of their answers, that they have forgotten who they work for. All of you were elected BY THE PEOPLE not by yourself.

          If the majority of voters want a say in their State, then get off your Arses and get it out to the voters. You can squabble like little children

          after the Proposal wins/loses. Open your mouths for the people who elected you in,  not for yourself as business as usual...!


                                                         "  When Injustice Becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty "

            zephbe's avatar - animal butterfly.jpg
            South Carolina
            United States
            Member #77167
            July 15, 2009
            554 Posts
            Posted: August 15, 2016, 3:59 pm - IP Logged

            Let the voters decide 1. if they want a lottery and 2. if they want clean lottery or lottery/gaming.

            Aren't the voters in AL sick of paternalism and hypocrisy on the part of their elected officials?

              TnTicketlosers's avatar - Lottery-065.jpg

              United States
              Member #71120
              February 19, 2009
              1209 Posts
              Posted: August 15, 2016, 5:09 pm - IP Logged

              Sick of the bull in Tennessee...thats all.Will I play in AL  oh yea