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Senate Democrats kill Alabama lottery bill over dog track concerns

AlabamaAlabama: Senate Democrats kill Alabama lottery bill over dog track concerns
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It was a step away from passage.

Then the lottery bill fell off a cliff.

Needing just one final vote to go on a future election ballot, a proposal to establish a statewide lottery collapsed in the Alabama Senate Friday when Democrats, key to the bill's success, withdrew their support amid concerns language in the bill – or not taken up by the House of Representatives -- could give the Poarch Band of Creek Indians a gaming monopoly at the expense of the state's existing dog tracks.

"If we allow this bill to go forth as it is... it would wipe out the existing industries I have," said Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, whose district includes GreeneTrack in Greene County.

The Senate voted 23 to 7 to nonconcur in the House version of the constitutional amendment, passed by the House late Thursday night amid a dramatic series of votes.

The end result was the death of the centerpiece of the special session called by Gov. Robert Bentley and renewed uncertainty about the future of the state's Medicaid program, which covers 1 million Alabamians, more than half under the age of 17.

"That vote today was not a vote against my bill; it was not a vote against me," Bentley said at a press conference Friday afternoon. "It was a vote against those children, those half a million children out there that are in poverty today because their health insurance is being jeopardized by the fact the Legislature did not take up this bill and let the people of Alabama solve this decades-old problem."

The governor said the vote would also imperil a plan to move Medicaid recipients intoregional care organizations (RCOs), a managed care-type program aimed at slowing cost growth in Medicaid. Alabama could receive up to $748 million from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers Medicaid, to implement RCOs and make improvements on health care benchmarks like infant mortality. But Bentley said the state may have to forfeit that money,

"They're not going to allow us to continue the program without long-term funding," he said.

The abrupt end to the lottery bill, which had escaped any number of dire situations over the past two weeks, turned legislators toward a short-term solution for Medicaid, which faces a deficit of at least $85 million in the General Fund budget that goes into effect Oct. 1. The deficit has already led Medicaid to cut payments to doctors, which has led to layoffs and could threaten rural physicians, particularly pediatricians.

But the vehicle to get that money — a settlement with BP over claims over the 2010 Gulf oil spill — faces its own controversy. The legislation would use about $448 million to pay off existing state debt, which combined with money under Bentley's control, could free up to $70 million for the Medicaid program. Another $191 million would go to support road projects in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

The failure of the lottery bill, however, will likely give impetus to legislators who want to see the debt payment increased, and possibly free more long-term money for Medicaid. That will lead to a collision with the Mobile and Baldwin county delegations, who say the region is still struggling to recover from the disaster.

"If you talk to those who represent the Gulf Coast, they feel all the money should go to the Gulf coast," Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said Friday. "The bill that came out of committee had $191 million for the coast. Right now, that's in jeopardy."

A clash of definitions

The lottery bill, had it escaped the Legislature and won voter approval, would have allowed lawmakers to set up a lottery in a future session. It would have put 10 percent of proceeds into the Education Trust Fund, with the remainder sent to the General Fund. The first $100 million would have gone to Medicaid.

Although almost never mentioned by name, senators were thinking a great deal of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who operate casinos in Atmore, Montgomery, and Wetumpka. Senate Democrats, who overwhelmingly backed the lottery bill when it passed the upper chamber Aug. 19, balked at a lottery definition put into the bill to appease House Republicans concerned about gambling expansion. The language restricted the definition of a lottery to paper tickets.

That was a deal breaker for most Democrats, who argued that if lotteries are considered Class III gaming — the same classification as casino-type gambling — state gambling operators could only sell lottery tickets, while the Poarch Band, a federally-recognized tribe, would corner the market on casino games like slot machines if the state pursued a compact allowing those.

"I think the paper definition is so restrictive it really doesn't do anything," said Senate Minority Leader Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery. "It limits what we can do."

House members in both parties Thursday attempted to add language to the bill that would require the state's dog tracks — such as GreeneTrack and VictoryLand in Macon County — to have whatever gambling allowed to the Poarch Band in a future compact. All those attempts failed.

Singleton and other Democrats hoped to push the bill into a conference committee in the hopes of putting that language in and taking the lottery definition out.

"They can have whatever the state offers," Singleton said during the debate.

Marsh said Friday the House would not accept those changes.

"They weren't willing to put that on downstairs," he said. "If we had gone to conference and added that, which is what the minority caucus wanted, you would have lost the votes in the House."

Ross said that disappointed him.

"Those of us who have been a part of this process know when the two Houses don't agree, we go into conference to reconcile our differences," Ross said. "But today, that's just not the case."

Lottery supporters were also undermined by the absence of two Republican senators — Bill Holtzclaw of Madison and Paul Sanford of Huntsville — who voted for the lottery bill last week. Holtzclaw, a Marine Corps veteran, said on Twitter he was at a Washington, DC honoring a former commander. Attempts to reach Sanford were unsuccessful.

Influences

Some legislators had no doubt about what sunk the lottery.

"Make no mistake," said Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City. "The casino interests are what killed that lottery."

Rumors about influences on the process flew around the state House throughout the week, and Bentley felt compelled on several occasions this week to strongly deny that he was pursuing a compact with the Poarch Band. Williams suggested Friday the failure of the bill might make Bentley more open to a compact. Bentley declined Friday to speak to a compact's future prospects, but repeated that he had not contacted the Poarch Band during the debates.

"That was not part of the process," he said. "I've never talked about it, I've never talked to the Native Americans or discussed that with them. That was never on the table. That was a smokescreen."

But groups opposed to the lottery on moral grounds were also active; Rep. Arnold Mooney, R-Birmingham, distributed folders prepared by a constituent to House members Thursday that condemned lotteries, in one case by employing veiled anti-gay language.

"There's those adamantly opposed to any gaming," Marsh said. "Now the gaming interests out there probably saw this as a threat as well."

The House and Senate adjourned until Sept. 6 Friday afternoon. There are three days left in the special session of the Legislature.

Bentley said his office would "keep working" on the issue, and left open the possibility of a second special session. Marsh said he hoped the outcome of the lottery would force legislators to look at budget reforms in taxes and the high percentage of revenues earmarked by the state. He did not expect to see another lottery proposal in the near future.

"It's taken a lot out of this body," he said. "They've worked hard, everybody's worked hard. They tried to get this done. The timing wasn't there."

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12 comments. Last comment 3 months ago by cbr$.
Page 1 of 1
mypiemaster's avatar - 2015021003pileofcash
JACKPOT HUNTER

United States
Member #141034
April 2, 2013
1408 Posts
Offline
Posted: August 27, 2016, 8:20 am - IP Logged

These politicians really suck.

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****

    Avatar
    Simpsonville
    United States
    Member #163189
    January 22, 2015
    677 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: August 27, 2016, 8:37 am - IP Logged

    Yes, they do suck.  What also sucks is dog track racing in general.

     

    More money in the coffers of neighboring states.  It would never happen, but if Mississippi suddenly got the urge to join the lottery bandwagon and it went through.

      Avatar
      Enterprise, Alabama
      United States
      Member #3796
      February 21, 2004
      20 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: August 27, 2016, 10:04 am - IP Logged

      Like I posted earlier, I'll just keep buying my lottery tickets in Florida. My money will go to Florida (I graduated from a Florida high school) rather than staying home in Alabama.

        Lucky4Life's avatar - batman14

        United States
        Member #85037
        January 7, 2010
        252 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: August 27, 2016, 11:46 am - IP Logged

        Like I posted earlier, I'll just keep buying my lottery tickets in Florida. My money will go to Florida (I graduated from a Florida high school) rather than staying home in Alabama.

        Same here.  I enjoy my bi monthly drive anyway.   What really sucks is when (not if!!) you and I win Alabama sure won't have any qualms about taking a chunk of lottery money for taxes.

          ressuccess's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg

          United States
          Member #93164
          June 23, 2010
          1325 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: August 27, 2016, 3:21 pm - IP Logged

          If the bill passes, then I hope Alabama gets joins the lottery team!

          I hope that one $2 ticket is the only one that matches all 5 numbers plus the Powerball to win the largest Powerball Jackpot in United States history of over $2 Billion Dollars!

            Groppo's avatar - cat anm.gif

            United States
            Member #162631
            January 7, 2015
            506 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: August 27, 2016, 3:22 pm - IP Logged

            .

            I wanted to reply to each of you, individually, but you all had good comments.

            I don't like Alabama, because of the doggone lotto issue.

            It doesn't seem to be in line to get fixed. Those of you who go to Fla to get your tickets -
            GOOD FOR YOU!

            Can you buy several hundred at a time, and go back to Bama and sell random tickets to the
            elderly?;   To those in the extended care facilities?

            Or has that idea been addressed at least 10,000 times?

            • Don't chase the numbers you play.
            • Play only numbers you've already played, plus however many random picks.
            • But, ALWAYS the regular numbers you play.  This will make you a winner, not a chaser.
                      (so far, though, I've yet to win any significant lotto prize)
              LottoAce's avatar - WWI Flying_Ace.gif
              N.C.
              United States
              Member #56005
              October 28, 2007
              832 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: August 27, 2016, 4:17 pm - IP Logged

              So, they would rather support an industry that abuses and neglects animals..? than get a lottery...?
              now why would they do this?
              probably because there maybe...not saying there is...but there maybe a few of them who have special intrests in those dog tracks. the kind that
              gets pocketed...if they get a lottery, there little cash dog will run dry!
              (ever seen a greyhound shelter?)
              I almost cried at the sight of those dogs. I don't believe in alot. but I do believe in divine justice...screw those Bama Bums!

              "know your limitations, but excede your expectations"

                Avatar
                Simpsonville
                United States
                Member #163189
                January 22, 2015
                677 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: August 28, 2016, 8:22 am - IP Logged

                So, they would rather support an industry that abuses and neglects animals..? than get a lottery...?
                now why would they do this?
                probably because there maybe...not saying there is...but there maybe a few of them who have special intrests in those dog tracks. the kind that
                gets pocketed...if they get a lottery, there little cash dog will run dry!
                (ever seen a greyhound shelter?)
                I almost cried at the sight of those dogs. I don't believe in alot. but I do believe in divine justice...screw those Bama Bums!

                 Back in the mid 70's I had gone to Wonderland Greyhound Track  in Revere MA a couple of times.  When I heard how they were treated stopped going.   Thankfully, and not too long ago, it was outlawed there and I believe all of New England as well.

                Greyhounds are very docile animals, sometimes their will be one or two @ rescue organizations and I always pet them.  They are the lucky ones and don't have to chase a fake rabbit running on an electric track for muzzled dogs to chase.

                I shudder @ the thought of them running, muzzled, around the course in the blistering heat. 

                I too believe in divine justice; Karma is a biatch and you reap what you sow.

                 

                Doubt they'll ever get a lottery there and to heck with that state and backwoods mentality of their politicians.

                  dpoly1's avatar - driver
                  PA
                  United States
                  Member #66141
                  October 16, 2008
                  1672 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: August 28, 2016, 1:59 pm - IP Logged

                  Someone wasn't getting their piece of the action with this bill!

                  dpoly1 - Playing the lottery to save the jobs of those that build, transport, sell & maintain luxury items! -

                   

                  Eschew Poverty ........... Vote Conservative!

                    Avatar
                    Kentucky
                    United States
                    Member #32652
                    February 14, 2006
                    7314 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: August 29, 2016, 1:38 am - IP Logged

                    The end result was the death of the centerpiece of the special session called by Gov. Robert Bentley and renewed uncertainty about the future of the state's Medicaid program, which covers 1 million Alabamians, more than half under the age of 17.

                    Who would have thought 1/2 million Alabamian adults get Medicare, but spending imaginary lottery revenues on anything is a red flag when trying to start a state lottery. While Alabama is really late getting into the lottery game, they still have an advantage to study successful state lotteries.

                      GaInVa's avatar - disney18
                      New Member
                      Shenandoah Valley in Virginia
                      United States
                      Member #175419
                      June 15, 2016
                      8 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: September 18, 2016, 3:28 pm - IP Logged

                      A couple of years ago I read that people in Phoenix City, Alabama spend more per capita on the Georgia Lottery than those of any locality in Georgia.  Don't remember what publication I was reading because I found the assertion so probably true as to be entirely  unremarkable.

                        cbr$'s avatar - maren
                        Cordova,Al.
                        United States
                        Member #104482
                        January 15, 2011
                        4927 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: September 19, 2016, 2:18 pm - IP Logged

                        It was a step away from passage.

                        Then the lottery bill fell off a cliff.

                        Needing just one final vote to go on a future election ballot, a proposal to establish a statewide lottery collapsed in the Alabama Senate Friday when Democrats, key to the bill's success, withdrew their support amid concerns language in the bill – or not taken up by the House of Representatives -- could give the Poarch Band of Creek Indians a gaming monopoly at the expense of the state's existing dog tracks.

                        "If we allow this bill to go forth as it is... it would wipe out the existing industries I have," said Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, whose district includes GreeneTrack in Greene County.

                        The Senate voted 23 to 7 to nonconcur in the House version of the constitutional amendment, passed by the House late Thursday night amid a dramatic series of votes.

                        The end result was the death of the centerpiece of the special session called by Gov. Robert Bentley and renewed uncertainty about the future of the state's Medicaid program, which covers 1 million Alabamians, more than half under the age of 17.

                        "That vote today was not a vote against my bill; it was not a vote against me," Bentley said at a press conference Friday afternoon. "It was a vote against those children, those half a million children out there that are in poverty today because their health insurance is being jeopardized by the fact the Legislature did not take up this bill and let the people of Alabama solve this decades-old problem."

                        The governor said the vote would also imperil a plan to move Medicaid recipients intoregional care organizations (RCOs), a managed care-type program aimed at slowing cost growth in Medicaid. Alabama could receive up to $748 million from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers Medicaid, to implement RCOs and make improvements on health care benchmarks like infant mortality. But Bentley said the state may have to forfeit that money,

                        "They're not going to allow us to continue the program without long-term funding," he said.

                        The abrupt end to the lottery bill, which had escaped any number of dire situations over the past two weeks, turned legislators toward a short-term solution for Medicaid, which faces a deficit of at least $85 million in the General Fund budget that goes into effect Oct. 1. The deficit has already led Medicaid to cut payments to doctors, which has led to layoffs and could threaten rural physicians, particularly pediatricians.

                        But the vehicle to get that money — a settlement with BP over claims over the 2010 Gulf oil spill — faces its own controversy. The legislation would use about $448 million to pay off existing state debt, which combined with money under Bentley's control, could free up to $70 million for the Medicaid program. Another $191 million would go to support road projects in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

                        The failure of the lottery bill, however, will likely give impetus to legislators who want to see the debt payment increased, and possibly free more long-term money for Medicaid. That will lead to a collision with the Mobile and Baldwin county delegations, who say the region is still struggling to recover from the disaster.

                        "If you talk to those who represent the Gulf Coast, they feel all the money should go to the Gulf coast," Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said Friday. "The bill that came out of committee had $191 million for the coast. Right now, that's in jeopardy."

                        A clash of definitions

                        The lottery bill, had it escaped the Legislature and won voter approval, would have allowed lawmakers to set up a lottery in a future session. It would have put 10 percent of proceeds into the Education Trust Fund, with the remainder sent to the General Fund. The first $100 million would have gone to Medicaid.

                        Although almost never mentioned by name, senators were thinking a great deal of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who operate casinos in Atmore, Montgomery, and Wetumpka. Senate Democrats, who overwhelmingly backed the lottery bill when it passed the upper chamber Aug. 19, balked at a lottery definition put into the bill to appease House Republicans concerned about gambling expansion. The language restricted the definition of a lottery to paper tickets.

                        That was a deal breaker for most Democrats, who argued that if lotteries are considered Class III gaming — the same classification as casino-type gambling — state gambling operators could only sell lottery tickets, while the Poarch Band, a federally-recognized tribe, would corner the market on casino games like slot machines if the state pursued a compact allowing those.

                        "I think the paper definition is so restrictive it really doesn't do anything," said Senate Minority Leader Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery. "It limits what we can do."

                        House members in both parties Thursday attempted to add language to the bill that would require the state's dog tracks — such as GreeneTrack and VictoryLand in Macon County — to have whatever gambling allowed to the Poarch Band in a future compact. All those attempts failed.

                        Singleton and other Democrats hoped to push the bill into a conference committee in the hopes of putting that language in and taking the lottery definition out.

                        "They can have whatever the state offers," Singleton said during the debate.

                        Marsh said Friday the House would not accept those changes.

                        "They weren't willing to put that on downstairs," he said. "If we had gone to conference and added that, which is what the minority caucus wanted, you would have lost the votes in the House."

                        Ross said that disappointed him.

                        "Those of us who have been a part of this process know when the two Houses don't agree, we go into conference to reconcile our differences," Ross said. "But today, that's just not the case."

                        Lottery supporters were also undermined by the absence of two Republican senators — Bill Holtzclaw of Madison and Paul Sanford of Huntsville — who voted for the lottery bill last week. Holtzclaw, a Marine Corps veteran, said on Twitter he was at a Washington, DC honoring a former commander. Attempts to reach Sanford were unsuccessful.

                        Influences

                        Some legislators had no doubt about what sunk the lottery.

                        "Make no mistake," said Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City. "The casino interests are what killed that lottery."

                        Rumors about influences on the process flew around the state House throughout the week, and Bentley felt compelled on several occasions this week to strongly deny that he was pursuing a compact with the Poarch Band. Williams suggested Friday the failure of the bill might make Bentley more open to a compact. Bentley declined Friday to speak to a compact's future prospects, but repeated that he had not contacted the Poarch Band during the debates.

                        "That was not part of the process," he said. "I've never talked about it, I've never talked to the Native Americans or discussed that with them. That was never on the table. That was a smokescreen."

                        But groups opposed to the lottery on moral grounds were also active; Rep. Arnold Mooney, R-Birmingham, distributed folders prepared by a constituent to House members Thursday that condemned lotteries, in one case by employing veiled anti-gay language.

                        "There's those adamantly opposed to any gaming," Marsh said. "Now the gaming interests out there probably saw this as a threat as well."

                        The House and Senate adjourned until Sept. 6 Friday afternoon. There are three days left in the special session of the Legislature.

                        Bentley said his office would "keep working" on the issue, and left open the possibility of a second special session. Marsh said he hoped the outcome of the lottery would force legislators to look at budget reforms in taxes and the high percentage of revenues earmarked by the state. He did not expect to see another lottery proposal in the near future.

                        "It's taken a lot out of this body," he said. "They've worked hard, everybody's worked hard. They tried to get this done. The timing wasn't there."

                        This Lottery Bill , Alabama politicians tried to push didn't deserve to pass. The Native         Americans in Alabama offered a [1] shoot deal to them. True there is no smoke screen. They made it perfectly clear. They don't want or need Alabama politicians in their business. As for the groups that opposed the lottery on moral grounds. In one case by employing veiled anti- gay language. You need a fund started to cover all the law suits you will get bombs with for this practice . You are promoting hate & no body want any part of that. What a person is doing in his/ or her person life . Plays no part in their gambling . I take my hat off to the Native Americans in Alabama, they have already lifted the veil. They know if it give the         Alabama politicians a inch , they're going to try take a mile !