By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
Now the gambling committee is officially dead.
Governor Kay Ivey, on Wednesday, signed an Executive Order ending the work of 18 Bentley-era committees, councils, and task forces, including, as APR reported on Tuesday, the Alabama Advisory Council on Gaming.
Also on the chopping block was the Grocery Tax Task Force, which aimed to remove the 4-percent Alabama sales tax on food, and the Alabama Human Resources Task Force, which was set up to find better ways for DHR to deliver services and monitor for child abuse.
“I believe strongly that my role is to make decisions and lead, not kick the can down the road. I am choosing to tackle some of the issues that have previously been sent before a task force,” Ivey said. “I will work closely with members of the Legislature in the days ahead to address the very important issues facing our State.”
She doesn’t plan to use any information from the disbanded committees to address those issues.
According to an Ivey spokesman, she has no plans to meet with any of the chairmen for any of the disbanded committees or receive any reports from them.
A source familiar with the gaming commission said its chairman, State Finance Director Clinton Carter, had completed its report and was prepared to turn it in, but he was continuously put off by Ivey for several days prior to Tuesday’s decision. That put Carter in the very odd position of trying to force a report on the office that tasked him with completing the report.
Carter has been encouraged by several lawmakers – from both sides of the aisle – to release his report to the public and media.
That’s because the report is widely viewed as a necessary tool for lawmakers, and the public, to make an informed decision on the future of gambling in Alabama. Carter’s committee heard from a number of experts and representatives from every side of every issue, and it also received sound legal advice on a variety of complicated gaming laws.
In a State where misinformation has consistently led to worthless debates that bogged down popular gaming Legislation, a report that cuts through the innuendo and fairytales is must, many lawmakers feel.
There are similar feelings about the Grocery Tax Task Force, which was set to explore an issue that has been pushed by some in the Legislature for two decades. That debate, too, has been filled with misstatements and bogus claims, and the task force was set to put clear numbers on the cost and effect to the state if the sales tax is removed.
“Since the first day I took office, I have been committed to efficiency in government, cutting bureaucratic red-tape, and saving tax-payer resources,” Ivey said. “Removing these groups, many of which have either completed their work or have become inactive, is just a part of that process.”