Alabama
11:39 am
Fri March 19, 2004

Bingo Passes Legislature: Budget Battle Continues

Montgomery. AL – The "Bingo for Books" bill has survived heavy opposition in the state Senate. It passed last night just before midnight on a 21-9 vote.
The bill would legalize high stakes bingo at all four of the state's dog tracks, while taxing the proceeds to create revenue for local schools. The vote came after an all day filibuster against the bill, and right before the Legislature recesses for a one-week spring break vacation. The measure's approval is a major a victory for dog track owners who have been trying to expand their attractions to compete with casinos in neighboring states.
The bill now goes to the House, and would need final approval by Alabama voters. Also at the Statehouse, a group of Republicans is opposing a recent proposal that calls for 326 million dollars in new tax and fee increases.
Senate Minority Leader Jabo Waggoner says they are supporting the governor's pledge to veto any broad-based taxes. Waggoner says the group agrees with the Governor that the Legislature should pass government accountability measures before tackling any broad-based taxes.
A bipartisan legislative committee proposed the increases taxes and fees, which would affect nursing homes, cars, cigarettes and some utilities.