By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
At a recent press gaggle, a reporter asked Governor Kay Ivey what the chances of Alabama passing a lottery are? Alabama is one of only six states that does not have some form of lottery. Her statement while clear to those who understand Alabama’s 1901 Constitution was taken out of context to say that the Governor opposed letting the people vote on a lottery.
APR reached out to Gov. Ivey’s office to clarify her position on whether the voters of Alabama should decide the fate of a lottery and not politicians.
“Governor Ivey absolutely supports the people’s right to vote on a constitutional amendment allowing a lottery in Alabama,” answered Ivey Press Secretary Daniel Sparkman. With under 20 words, Gov. Ivey showed the honest leadership, which has earned her a positive approval rating of 64 percent among all Alabamians and 74 percent among Republicans.
Past Governors have dodged or equivocated on the issue while others acted as if they were protecting unruly children from running amuck.
As Ivey’s spokesperson Sparkman points out, passing Legislation allowing the people an up or down vote of a lottery is completely controlled by the Legislative Branch and not the Governor’s Office.
“That is an issue that has to be tackled by the Legislature,” said Sparkman, “because bills creating or amending constitutional amendments are not sent to the Governor but directly to the people for approval.”
However, knowing that Gov. Ivey supports the people’s right to decide is a significant step toward finally putting this decisive matter to rest. As Gov. Ivey alluded too at the press gathering, a statewide lottery is very popular among voters with even Republican’s favoring a constitutional measure by over 60 percent.
There is already gambling in the State, as the Poarch Band of Creek Indians control a massive monopoly over gaming, thanks to former Gov. Bob Riley and current Senator Luther Strange when he was Attorney General. Both men relying on a controversial opinion by one of Riley’s junior attorneys, and later rulings by handpicked judge declared local constitutional amendments didn’t mean what the voters thought they said.
After spending nearly ten million in taxpayer dollars on Riley’s and Strange’s bingo raids, the State is no closer to addressing an issue easily settled by letting the people vote.
In the past Republican State lawmakers were reluctant to pass legislation for a vote on a Constitutional Amendment that would have paved the way for a lottery, claiming their constituents opposed such measure. However, this worry has not caused Republican legislators from taking a campaign contribution from outside gaming interests who want to protect their turf.
Finally, Alabama has a Governor who doesn’t see the State’s citizens as children who can make up their minds but stands by the cherished value of letting the people and not the politicians decide.
Now it is up to lawmakers to show the same leadership as Gov. Ivey by putting the burden of the gaming issue in the people’s hands.