The North Carolina Legislature's newest lottery bill would give counties the option to participate in a state-run numbers game in which they would receive a portion of the proceeds for school construction.
The measure filed by Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, would allow county commissioners the authority to call an election on whether to operate the lottery in that county. A state-run lottery could be started once voters in 25 counties agree to participate in one.
One-quarter of all revenues generated in a lottery would be distributed to participating counties for building schools, the bill said. The remainder would be used by the state to pay for the More at Four prekindergarten program, class-size reduction and for tutoring.
Owens said Monday he got the idea in part from how the Legislature allowed counties and municipalities to hold referenda to determine if or how they could sell alcohol.
Legislators have debated lottery bills going back 20 years, with measures passing the Senate at least three times. Gov. Mike Easley raised the profile of a lottery when he made it a pillar of his campaign platform in 2000. Proceeds from his lottery proposals would go to education programs.
The House voted down a bill in 2002 that would have allowed for a statewide advisory referendum on an "education lottery."
Easley said Monday he would continue to lobby the Legislature for a lottery, especially since North Carolina is the only East Coast state now without one. South Carolina and Tennessee have started lotteries since Easley has been in office.
"I'm going to push hard, push hard for a lottery every single session," the governor told reporters at a news conference releasing his budget requests for the next fiscal year.
Some bills filed on Monday's opening day of this year's legislative session include:
- one that would amend the state's sex offender registration law so that people who are offenders in other states learn that they should register in North Carolina if they move to the state.
The measure filed by Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth, came after a state Court of Appeals opinion last month that ruled North Carolina's registry law doesn't say clearly that new residents from out of state must sign up.
The bill would order the Division of Motor Vehicles to alert all driver's license applicants of the requirement.
- another bill that would set aside $60 million to build a new institute of East Carolina University to research cardiovascular disease. The institute is one of several university health research centers discussed last year by the Legislature.
- a measure that would provide a tax credit for small businesses that pay for at least 50 percent of the premiums for their employees' health care coverage. The credit sought by Rep. Bruce Goforth, D-Buncombe, could reach $1,300 per eligible employee.
- a bill by Sen. Cecil Hargett, D-Onslow, asking for $4 million to build a Marine Corps museum in North Carolina or South Carolina.
- a joint resolution honoring the late Rep. Gene McCombs, who died in January during his sixth term in the General Assembly.