Alabama Lottery Vote Narrowly Passes State House, Governor Bentley Denies Secret Casino Plans
Posted on: August 26, 2016, 02:00h.
Last updated on: August 26, 2016, 01:04h.
The Alabama lottery bill supported by Governor Robert Bentley (R) narrowly passed the State House of Representatives late Thursday night by a vote of 64-35. The tally of the 99 legislators squeaked by the 63 minimum vote requirement to pass the legislation to the Senate.
It was the second poll of the day to move Senate Bill 3 to the opposite chamber.
Earlier in the afternoon, only 61 representatives backed the bill. When the second vote took place around 11:30 pm, Reps. Kelvin Lawrence (D-District 69), Darrio Melton (D-District 67), and David Sessions (R-District 105) switched their votes to yes.
SB3 is the governor’s last resort to boost state funding. Bentley says Alabama can no longer pay for the most basic public services.
“We came out with a victory,” Bentley told reporters in the middle of the night. “Not us, but a victory for the people of this state.”
“The lottery is a way that we can have money to fund the essential services of this state,” Bentley said.
Introduced by Sen. Jim McClendon (R-District 11), SB3 would direct 90 percent of lottery proceeds to the state’s General Fund, with the remaining 10 percent earmarked for the Education Trust Fund.
Bentley says the primary issue is paying for Medicaid, and the lottery would help solve that problem by providing additional revenue to the General Fund.
Alabama is the most religious state in America according to Pew Research. Some 77 percent of adults say they are “highly religious,” so even if the Senate passes SB3, it could find yet another hurdle in the general public.
Since SB3 would amend the Alabama Constitution, a voter referendum would need to be passed for the legislation to become law.
Bentley used a recent visit to the Children’s Hospital of Alabama to garner support for his lottery measure.
“Which is the most immoral: Buying five lottery tickets with money you earned or allowing a child to die?” the governor asked.
Bentley is fresh off an alleged scandalous affair with a former married senior advisor. Bentley and his wife divorced in 2015.
The governor admitted to acting inappropriately with the aide but denied having sexual relations with the married woman.
A divorced politician with claims of an affair still receiving legislative support in Alabama highlights the dire situation of the state’s finances.
New rumors recently surfaced that Bentley isn’t only after the lottery but is also working in secret with the Poarch Creek Indians to build a tribal casino. The tribe would reportedly pay the state a one-time payment of $250 million.
Bentley is denying those claims, too.
“My goal is to have a simple lottery to help our people and solve a decades old problem dealing with our general fund,” Bentley said this week. “Reported rumor that I have secretly, or openly, negotiated a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians is blatantly false.”
The Poarch Creek tribe is the only federally recognized Native American group in Alabama. The Band currently operates three slots-only casinos.
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