By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
A growing chorus of GOP insiders are urging the members of the House of Representatives to reject a controversial constitutional amendment, to vote on a lottery on the November 8, Presidential election ballot.
They argue that a lottery vote will only bring a disproportionate number of Democrats to the polls.
Jefferson County Republican Party Chair Sallie Bryant recently wrote, that a General Election vote on the lottery, “Would be disastrous for Republicans in Jefferson County, as it would drive up Democrat turnout in a year when it is expected to be lower. We’ve already put so much work into this election — not just our incumbents and new candidates who have been out campaigning, but members of our Executive Committee who have spent countless hours organizing and fundraising on their behalf.”
Republican State Steering Committee Member Chris Brown said, “I also do not support having the lottery issue appear on the November General Election ballot. It will be a disaster for Republican candidates running in Jefferson County as it will drive Democrats to the polls in droves. We cannot afford to lose our Republican District Attorney(s) and I definitely don’t want a bunch of liberal judges presiding over our local courts.”
Former Jefferson County Judge Brian Huff (R) said on social media, “Putting this issue on the November ballot shows the senate delegation, aside from Sen Waggoner, has no regard for the Jefferson County officials who are elected county-wide.” Sen. Jabo Waggoner was the only Senator from Jefferson County to vote against the controversial lottery bill.
Chris Brown says, that Jefferson County has 32 Democrat judges and just 7 Republican judges. “After this election, if what happened in 2008 and 2012 happens again, we will have only have 2 Republicans on the bench.”
Jeffco Republican Chairperson Sallie Bryant said on Friday, “We here in Jefferson County will let our House members know we don’t want to pay for Medicaid with state funded gambling. It would mean each and every person would have to average gambling away $185 each year on lottery tickets. Do you think that is reasonable? No way.”
State Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) told the Alabama Political Reporter, “There is no evidence of a disproportionate turnout. In 1999 some black belt counties voted down Seigleman’s lottery bill.” Sen. McClendon said that he favors deciding the lottery issue on the November 8 ballot because the, “Best measure of voter opinion is with big turnout.”
McClendon told the Alabama Political Reporter, that a special election would cost $3.1 million. He asked if the Jefferson County GOP was willing to pay the cost of a special referendum, likely in January, and accused Jeffco GOP officials of, “Putting local politics ahead of caring for sick kids.”
The Senate passed McClendon’s lottery bill, SB3, on Friday, August 19. It now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.
An amendment to the bill by Senator Greg Reed (R-Jasper) appears to divide the lottery proceeds 90 percent to the struggling State General Fund (SGF) and ten percent to the education trust fund (ETF). However another amendment by Senator Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) appears to cancel out the other amendment and instead allocates the first $100 million to the costly State Medicaid program and the rest of the money to the SGF.
Sen. McClendon said those discrepancies are being fixed and the bill with the 90 percent SGF: ten percent ETF funding wording is the one that passed out of the Senate and is going to the House.
The Alabama House of Representatives will meet at 3:00 pm on Tuesday. Sources tell the Alabama Political Reporter that the legislature needs to pass the lottery by the close of business on Wednesday, August 24 for it to be on the ballot on November 8.
There are seven legislative days left in this Special Session.