MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama state senators are going to get their first chance to debate a state lottery. Two lottery bills were voted out of committee and will move on to the Senate floor Wednesday. One is the bill backed by Governor Robert Bentley and the other is a sort-of all-inclusive bill being put up by Senator Jim McClendon. The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee quickly voted to move those bills out of committee Tuesday afternoon.
The Governor’s bill just calls for a state lottery and money to go into the General Fund. Senator McClendon’s bill has the state lottery, and calls for video lottery terminals to be put at the existing dog track locations in the state. It also separates out the money raised into the general fund and education budgets.
Senate pro tem, Del Marsh, says there’s still a lot of work to do to get this passed in the Senate. “Quite honestly, as I said, there aren’t 21 votes as we stand here today to pass it,” Marsh says, “So all we can do is let the process work to see if there’s a way to get enough people to get to an agreement to get to 21.”
Marsh says he is ready to debate all day long.
Another bill by Birmingham area Senator, Roger Smitherman, was pulled from committee but could come back up at any time.
Earlier today, Alabama’s Attorney General, Luther Strange, issued a statement on lottery legislation before the bills were presented. You can see the full statement below:
“I am personally opposed to any lottery to fund state government. I believe the lottery is, at best, a band aid on the state’s budgetary problems and will not provide the kind of long-term solution we need. As Attorney General, I have been approached by the Legislature to offer a legal interpretation of the impact of the various lottery proposals upon the state. My office has reviewed the Governor’s proposed constitutional amendment (SB3). If the amendment passes as proposed and is followed by responsible enabling legislation, my legal team believes it will create a limited lottery without the kinds of loopholes that will lead to casino gambling or protracted litigation. However, if Senator McClendon’s proposed constitutional amendment (SB11) passes, my legal team believes it will not only allow for a lottery but will lead to casino gambling and protracted litigation.”
Senator McClendon spoke with us about AG Strange’s statement. “And their decision on a letter from the Attorney General, it has absolutely no significance whatsoever,” Sen. McClendon added, “but an opinion letter from the AG does not mean anything, it has no strength whatsoever and I’m not going to talk about that anymore.”
The Senate starts Day 3 of the Special Session Wednesday at 10 am. They are expected to get to the lottery bill SB 11 right out of the gate.