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Siegelman Says: Not This Lottery

Brandon Moseley



By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Seventeen years ago, one Alabama Governor proposed a lottery amendment to the Constitution. It sailed through the Alabama Legislature and went to the people of Alabama who decisively rejected the proposal. Now a new Alabama Governor, Robert Bentley (R), is proposing a new lottery amendment; but that former Governor, Don Siegelman (D), is urging that this new lottery proposal be rejected.

Gov. Siegelman said, “I had been asking the people of Alabama to establish a lottery since 1989. Over and over I pleaded “Every child, regardless of where they are born or to whom, deserve the right to quality education and every child should have the hope and dream of knowing that if they make their grades and stay out of trouble, they’ll be able to go to college free. In 1998 I was elected Governor again calling for an “Education Lottery”. A Georgia style lottery with 100% of the proceeds going into the “Alabama Education Trust Fund”.

Siegelman said that his lottery trust fund would have paid for Pre-K, college scholarships for most high school graduates, and school technology while Gov. Bentley’s lottery is being promoted by, “Hypocrites who opposed the lottery before now want to be bailed out from having to pass tax reform to force large foreign corporations, out of state, multinational corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. Hundreds of companies make billions of profits in Alabama but don’t pay a penny. Foreign corporations which own nearly 30% of our timber land, pay only pennies in taxes compared to our neighbor, Georgia.” “Some of these same people who fought the lottery in 1999, whose greed or lust for power cheated our children out of a better life, want Alabama voters to bail them out.”


Gov. Bentley’s lottery would go towards Alabama’s state general fund’s needs primarily: economic incentives; prison improvements, and Alabama Medicaid, which is costing the state $700 million in fiscal year 2016

Gov. Siegelman claimed that, “Medicaid would not be in trouble in the first place if elected Alabama politicians had accepted the billions of dollars that came along with the Affordable Care Act. They foolishly looked that gift horse in the mouth, yelping political criticism at President Obama trying to curry political favor.”

Siegelman wrote, “Governor Bentley, a staunch Baptist, once joined the loud “Christian” refrain opposing a lottery as a sin, immoral, something so wicked it would surely usher in prostitution, muggings, robberies and create a wave of gambling addiction. These were the arguments used by opponents to defeat the “Education Lottery” referendum in 1999.”

Siegelman blamed Baptists, Karl Rove, Ralph Reed (then President of the Christian Coalition), lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Mike Scanlon, then Congressman Bob Riley (R), and the Mississippi Choctaw Indian casinos for his stunning 1999 lottery referendum failure. Seigelman said that his opponents engaged in a money laundering scheme to funnel up to $20,000,000 from the Indian casinos into Alabama to defeat him, the lottery, and other gaming proposals.

Ironically it was the lottery referendum that ultimately led to Siegelman’s prosecution and present incarceration. Jurors found Siegelman guilty of agreeing to put then Heathsouth CEO Richard Scrushy on the Board that certifies hospital construction in exchange for a $250,000 contribution to his pro-lottery media blitz…..a charge that Seigelman hotly contests to this day. Siegelman contends that his indictment by then U.S. Attorney Leura Canary was timed to help then Gov. Bob Riley, whose campaign was supported by Leura’s husband, Business Council of Alabama (BCA) President William “Billy” Canary.

Siegelman said, “Today, I am not even sure how much money a lottery would yield, but I do know this, whatever it might raise should go to educate our children and voters should not let the Governor or Alabama Legislature get their hands on a penny of it. So I say, ‘Maybe a lottery, but not this lottery.’”

Democrats are hoping to use the lottery as an issue to build support for a comeback at some point in the future, like Seigelman did in 1998 (unseating Gov. Fob James (R)). Siegelman is the only Democrat to win a gubernatorial election in Alabama since George C Wallace (D) defeated Montgomery Mayor Emory Fulmer (R) in 1982 (Wallace’s fourth and final term as Governor). Republicans also know this and some contend are planning on passing this GOP lottery version to take the issue away from Democrats, who won’t be able to pull lottery funding from the general fund once it gets entrenched there. Voters who give the legislature a lottery are also going to be reluctant to then vote for any kind of a tax increase in the future.

Gov. Bentley has called a special session of the legislature that begins on August 15. State Senator Jim McClendon (R from Springville) and State Representative Allen Harper (R from Northport) are reportedly working on the controversial lottery proposal. A state lottery is expressly forbidden by Alabama’s 1901 Constitution so no lottery can pass without a vote of the people of Alabama. If a lottery passes through both Houses of the Legislature it would likely be on the November 8 ballot.

Gov. Siegelman is expected to be released from prison in August of 2017.

(Original reporting by CBS New Channel 42 contributed to this report.)

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Day Care bill passes out of Legislature, heads to Governor Ivey’s desk

Sam Mattison



The day care bill that would license certain day cares in Alabama has left the Legislature to the governor’s desk after a long tussle in the State House.

Alabama’s Senate approved the bill 23-4 Thursday after state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, relented on Wednesday saying that he would no longer “stand in the way” of the bill’s passage.

Shelnutt initiated delay tactics when it first came to the floor last month, and the senator is primarily the cause of its failure last year. He opposed the bill on the grounds of religious day cares being licensed, and the structural requirements that would be imposed on them.

Religious day cares in non-profit schools and churches were the main concern of opponents to the legislation. The bill’s sponsor Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, worked with multiple groups to reach a compromise.


The final bill was a weakened version that only would affect some day cares in the state, as opposed to the original goal of licensing all day cares. The factor that would determine licensing would be if the day care accepted federal dollars in grants.

Warren said the compromise was worth it if the bill could be passed by the Legislature.

In a statement after the bill’s passage, Warren said it was a “great day for the children of Alabama.”

“This legislation will go a long way to ensuring a safer environment for children across the state who attend these facilities,” Warren said. “I greatly appreciate all the support from my colleagues and look forward to the Governor signing this important legislation.”

While ultimately voting in favor of the bill, state Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, said that all day cares in the state should be protected.

“We need to come back and bring something stronger,” Figures said.

Other proponents of the bill voiced similar sentiments. VOICES for Alabama’s Children said the bill is an “incremental step” in a statement after its passage.

“While the bill provides additional protections to some programs, we continue to reiterate our position—as we have clearly and repeatedly stated throughout this debate—that every child care facility should be licensed in the state of Alabama,” Melanie Bridgeforth, VOICES for Alabama’s Children’s executive director, said in the statement.

The bill was delivered to the governor a little after noon on Thursday.

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Senate passes education budget after battle over ASU’s funding on floor

Sam Mattison



The Alabama Senate managed to pass the Education Trust Fund budget on Thursday after a nearly 4-hour debate that threatened to derail its passage.

Thursday’s debate of the budget started off relatively calm with state Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman, stating his problems with the bill but making no action to change the appropriations amount.

Bussman, in a bid to stall the budget last year, went line-by-line in the budget on a whiteboard he wheeled unto the floor. No whiteboards were present this year.

Instead, Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, took to the podium to challenge the appropriations for Alabama State University, which he says was unfairly targeted by the Bentley administration.


In his tenure, Gov. Robert Bentley started to audit ASU saying that some of their programs were not up to standards. Although his probe never found anything to take action on, the governor never formally cleared the institution and various programs faced being uncertified.

According to Singleton, the Bentley probe cost the university millions in lost revenue.

Singleton, mentioning former senator and ASU President Quinton Ross, said the state should increase the appropriations by millions in what he calls “reparations.”

ASU received a boost in funding in 2019’s budget like all universities in the state, but to some senators, the increases were marginal at best.

Singleton was one of those senators and proposed an amendment that would give $3.5 million to the institution. Wanting to move on with the budget’s passage, senators rejected his initial proposal.

After its failure, Singleton indicated that he and other sympathetic senators would begin to grandstand the bill and potentially set the Senate back by hours.

As Singleton began his filibuster, other senators, including some Republicans, joined him to speak about how they thought ASU was targeted by the Bentley administration.

State Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, said the Bentley probe into ASU was “wrong-headed” and also expressed that he was interested in giving them some increased funds from the budget.

Nearly an hour and a half after the debate began, Singleton announced he would decrease his amendment to $1.2 million. The Senate accepted the proposal and passed the budget unanimously.

With Singleton’s new amendment, ASU’s budget will have increased by $3 million when compared to 2018’s budget. The institution’s appropriations are now $46 million.

The bill will now go to the House to be debated or concurred to the governor’s desk.

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Bill to arm educators passes out of Committee

Sam Mattison



Educators in Alabama are one step closer to being able to carry firearms into their classrooms after a House committee narrowly approved a bill to arm school officials.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Will Ainsworth, R-Guntersville, would allow for educators to carry firearms into a school’s campus if they received a minimum of 40 hours of training.

In addition to the minimum requirement, the bill would also allow for local school officials to impose additional requirements, and would give the officials the final say on who can and cannot carry a weapon.

Under the current provisions, only a select few in the school would know who possessed the gun, and parents would not be privy to the information. The situation has been described like the Air Marshal’s program, where anonymous law enforcement carry guns on planes unannounced to the aircraft’s passengers.


Ainsworth’s bill was combined with state Rep. Allen Farley, R-McCalla, which would have allowed schools to establish a security force. Both bills were presented during a public hearing on Wednesday, where education officials both supported and denounced the measure.

At Thursday’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee meeting, the opposing representatives let their dissent known.

Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham, said that educators are trained to teach and not fire guns at students. Moore has been an opponent since Ainsworth filed the legislation and filed legislation of her own to ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons.

Moore was sharply critical of the lack of a funding mechanism in Ainsworth’s legislation.

Rep. Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville, accused Ainsworth of making a political move with the bill, and called it a “great campaign” bill.

Farley said the bill was not a political move, but came at the behest of his wife, who encouraged him to file the legislation after the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting a month ago that ended with more than a dozen dead.

Ainsworth, who has three children in public education, made similar statements.

The last opponent to speak was a former teacher and the only Republican against the bill.

Rep. Harry Shiver, R-Stockton, said at the meetings that firearm would not be welcomed in school and said that “lady teachers” wouldn’t even carry firearms.

The comment inspired the ire of some online including gun rights activist and Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs for Gun Rights Inc. Shanna Marie Chamblee.

“I’m checking my calendar to make sure I didn’t time warp back a few centuries,” Chamblee wrote on Facebook. “I’ve just sat in this committee and listened to both a Democrat AND a Republican House Representative say that ‘Lady Teachers’ shouldn’t carry guns and aren’t capable of defending like a male! WHAT!?!?!?!?”

In an interview with, Shiver double-downed on his comments.

“I’m not saying all (women), but in most schools, women are (the majority) of the teachers,” Shiver said to “Some of them just don’t want to (be trained to possess firearms). If they want to, then that’s good. But most of them don’t want to learn how to shoot like that and carry a gun.”

Despite the controversy created by Shiver’s comments, the bill narrowly passed the committee 5-4. It’s trajectory now is up in the air.

Ainsworth and others in the House are confident that they can pass it before the end of this year’s Session, which seems to be drawing to a near end. The representative told reporters on Wednesday that the bill was a “priority” for House leadership.

Its real path to final passage lies in getting past the Senate.

Speaking to reporters after the Senate’s meeting on Thursday, Senate Pro-Temp Del Marsh, R-Anniston, indicated that the bill would not be a priority for the upper chamber.

With only two weeks left, the bill must overcome the Senate in only 5 days without a fast track set by Senate leadership. A vote is expected on the bill in the House next week.

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Siegelman Says: Not This Lottery

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 4 min