TOPEKA, Kan. — Your ability to buy lottery tickets from vending machines in Kansas may depend on how many lawmakers show up for the ceremonial last day of the session Monday.
A bill allowing the Kansas Lottery to use vending machines to sell tickets was vetoed by Gov. Sam Brownback last week.
The Legislature approved House Bill 2313 earlier this month with margins far greater than the two-thirds needed to override the veto. The House passed the bill 98-19; the Senate passed it 34-4.
But because the final day is largely ceremonial, with little actual business, some lawmakers do not show up.
A significant number of absences could make it impossible for bill supporters to muster the 84 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate needed to override the veto.
House Speaker Ron Ryckman's office is polling lawmakers to see how many plan to attend on Monday. That will help determine whether lawmakers pursue a veto override, said House Majority Leader Don Hineman, R-Dighton. The House would vote on an override first, then the Senate.
What Brownback does about the state budget could affect attendance and the prospects for override on the lottery bill. The governor has until Sunday to sign or veto the budget bill. Although no one expects him to wholly veto it, he could veto some funding items.
"That's another part of it.... That could increase the level of urgency for people to show up," Hineman said.
If Brownback's veto on the lottery bill stands, lawmakers can offer the bill again next year.
Proponents had hoped Brownback would allow the bill to become law, not only to allow lottery vending machines, but also because it would provide for up to $4 million in lottery proceeds to go toward mental health services next year.
"I was surprised the governor wasn't on board with that," said Rep. Kristey Williams, R-Augusta. Williams was part of a team of legislative negotiators who crafted the final version of the bill.
Brownback said last week that the lottery has a disproportionately negative effect on low-income Kansans. Since the state is the only entity allowed to operate a lottery in Kansas, it has a "higher standard of care" concerning its management and implementation, he said.
Kansas should not encourage behavior that undermines efforts to encourage upward economic mobility and long-term financial security, he said.
"Rather than investing limited resources in games of chance, our goal is to help low income Kansans find a path to self-reliance and independence through education, work and savings," Brownback said in his veto message.
In a statement, Kansas Lottery director Terry Presta called the veto disappointing but said he respects the governor's decision.
The Lottery had been pursuing the legislation for months. It says the vending machines would initially increase lottery sales by $25 million to $30 million annually, and could increase funds coming to the state by $8 million to $10 million each year.
Kansas Lottery retailer locations would be limited to two vending machines each.
Thirty-eight of 44 U.S. lotteries use vending machines — called electronic dispensers — including Missouri, Oklahoma and Colorado.
"The Lottery is frequently asked by its lottery retailers if such dispensers are available in Kansas because they want a better way to track inventory, sales, to reduce customer wait times and specifically labor costs," the Lottery told lawmakers in March.
Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, voted against the bill. He said his criticisms were similar to Brownback's concerns. Gambling can prove harmful, particularly for lower-income people, Carmichael said.
He also expressed concern with requirements that lottery winners who collect enough to pay federal taxes must be checked against a list of state debtors. Winnings would be taken to pay off any debts.
Those who believe their winnings are wrongly withheld could appeal only to the Department of Administration, not in court — a limitation Carmichael criticized.
Still, Carmichael said he's unsure how he would vote on an override because of the additional funding for mental health services.
"If these funds were not dedicated for mental health services, this would be an easy vote to support the governor," Carmichael said.