Alabama lottery bill

There will be no public vote on an Alabama lottery. APR’s Pat Duggins reports time is also running out for lawmakers to make up for a miscarriage of justice when they resume a special session next week.

State Senator Paul Bussman submitted a bill on the case of Anthony Ray Hinton. He spent thirty years in prison after being falsely convicted in a double murder in 1985.

Bussman wants to compensate Hinton through Alabama’s Wrongful Incarceration Act. The measure states that prison exonerees can get fifty thousand dollars for each year of wrongful imprisonment.

Alabama voters won’t be casting ballots on a state lottery this November. But, there will be a proposed constitutional amendment to keep an estimated six hundred local laws from being declared null and void. A lawsuit is challenging House procedures which could make lawmakers' “yes” votes to allow voters to decide on a list of local ballot measures unconstitutional. If the legal challenge is successful, these local laws might be ruled invalid even if voters approved them. Senator Cam Ward says the measures possibly at risk include one in Florence allowing Sunday alcohol sales.

Alabama State House
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A lottery bill is heading to a critical vote in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Today’s vote could determine whether a proposed state lottery goes before Alabama voters later this year or if the bill dies in the special session.

House members will debate Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed state lottery. Bentley is seeking the first statewide referendum on the establishment of a lottery since voters rejected the idea in 1999.

Alabama Senators have once again failed to vote on a lottery proposal.

The Senate spent much of the day yesterday debating and revamping a lottery bill backed by Senator Jim McClendon that would establish a state lottery as well as electronic gambling machines in several Alabama locations. But Senators ultimately decided not to vote, after a test vote indicated the bill didn’t have enough support to pass.

Alabama State House
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Alabama’s Senate and House of Representatives are back in Montgomery once again to try and find a solution to the state’s budget woes.

Governor Robert Bentley called the special session of the state’s legislature to find funding for Medicaid, infrastructure and state debt repayment. One of the most popular plans is to amend the state constitution to set up a lottery, with revenue directed into Alabama’s ailing General Fund.

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Alabama lawmakers are currently being polled about support for lottery legislation as Governor Robert Bentley contemplates calling a special session on Medicaid funding.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says legislative leaders are gauging interest from state legislators. Marsh says the discussions come as Governor Bentley contemplates calling a special session that could include a lottery bill.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Time is running out for the Alabama Legislature to work out a general fund budget, but the state Senate is beginning to iron out the details.

State agency heads told members of the Senate Budget Committee yesterday that proposed cuts will close circuit clerk offices, slash Medicaid services and send state prisons into a danger zone of crowding and violence.

Committee Chairman Arthur Orr says there are close to $150 million in revenue-generating bills under discussion that could reduce the cuts if they win legislative approval.

A judge recently stopped another effort from Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s defense to have his ethics case dismissed.

Lee County Judge Jacob Walker III granted a state motion to kill subpoenas against Governor Robert Bentley and the custodian of records for the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Hubbard’s lawyers say those subpoenas were necessary to learn about possible communication records from Governor Bentley regarding Attorney General Luther Strange recusing himself from the case and appointing chief prosecutor Van Davis.

Supporters and critics of legalized gambling and an Alabama state lottery are scheduled to meet in Montgomery today.

If approved by voters, the measure would allow casino gambling at four state dog tracks along with lotto drawings. Critics of lotteries claim they’re a tax on the poor and a study by the non-partisan John Locke Foundation in North Carolina appears to support that idea.

Foundation spokesman Mitch Kokai says they examined who bought tickets during the first year of North Carolina’s lottery in 2007.

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The Democratic leader in the Alabama House is calling for the Legislature to use its election-year session to approve a state lottery.

House Minority Leader Craig Ford of Gadsden says a lottery could create as much as $250 million annually for schools. He says many Alabamians are playing lotteries in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, and he wants to keep their money at home.

Alabama House Democrats want to put an armed police officer in each of the approximately 1,500 public schools in Alabama.

Representative Merika Coleman-Evans of Birmingham says the measure is aimed at preventing incidents like the recent school shootings in Connecticut.