The Alabama Senate has approved Gov. Robert Bentley’s proposal to start a state lottery.
Senators on Friday voted 21-12 for the bill, hitting the required number of votes needed for approval. The legislative victory for the governor keeps the bill alive in the special session on Medicaid funding.
It’s a relief,” Governor Bentley said. “I’m going to go home tonight and relax for the first time.”
“It feels great! I’m glad to get it off my chest!” said Jim McClendon, the senator who carried the governor’s bill through the senate.
The bill, which was originally intended to send 100% of lottery proceeds to the general fund, changed throughout the day before passing.
The most notable amendment to the bill takes 10% of those proceeds and sends them to the education fund.
“I’m going to say that with the amendments, it[bill] was even cleaner. There was talk that it was going to30-page0 page bill. That’s not true,” Speaker Pro Tem Del Marsh said. “They weren’t long ammendments and they made a lot of sense.”
Bentley is seeking to put a lottery to the first statewide vote since Alabamians voted down a lottery in 1999. Alabama is one of six states without a lottery.
Proponents said Alabamians should make the decision over whether to have a lottery. Opponents said a lottery will hurt the poor and lotteries have not solved budget problems in other states
The lottery bill is the centerpiece legislation of a special session called by Bentley on Medicaid funding.
Out the senators representing districts in WKRG’s viewing area, Democrat Vivian Figures was the only senator to vote in favor of the bill.
“I had promised my constituents for years I’d leave it up to them to vote whether or not they want a lottery,” Figures said.
Senator Bill Hightower told WKRG in an interview earlier this week that he couldn’t support a lottery because there are more pressing issues in the budget. “My issue with a lottery bill is that it postpones the real reform we need to have with the budget. We have the most earmarked budget in the nation. We need to deal with that first,” Hightower said.
The bill’s next stop in a House of Representatives committee and if it passes there it could be voted into law as early as Wednesday if enough support is there.
Wednesday is the cutoff to put a lottery on the November ballot.