By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Saturday, August 27, State Senator Paul Bussman (R-Cullman) said that lottery bill SB3, which was killed by the Senate on Friday, “Was filled with problems.”
Sen. Bussman wrote in a statement, “Yesterday the Senate failed to concur with the House version of the lottery bill, killing the bill for the Special Session. The entire bill was filled with problems. The bill did not even say what kind of games would be allowed, Scratch off, Powerball, or Megaball, etc. It did not determine what percentage of the lottery the State would keep (25, 35 or 50 percent). It did not say where all the money would go. It did not assure a fair system to the players, odds and prize percentage to be determined later.”
Sen. Bussman said that SB3, “Would have created another agency in government that would have been bigger than the legislative branch. The ‘legislature’ would decide the rules later. And after I heard all of the sleazy deals being made, there is no way it would be done right or fair.”
Bussman accused the Bentley administration of offering special favors to legislators for a “yes” vote: “I heard about roads being offered to get legislators to vote yes. I even heard one Representative was offered a whole new water system for his city for a yes vote. That in any other business would be bribery. Pay-to-play – What do I need to give you for your vote? This had nothing to do with people voting, it had to do with back room deals, more corruption and somebody getting rich at the expense of the people of Alabama. Let’s call ‘evil’ what it is.”
Sen. Bussman said, “Let me be very clear. This Special Session has clearly shown that this is not about, and never has been, about Medicaid. Gaming and lottery are the priorities here, not healthcare for our citizens. So we risk losing our rural hospitals so somebody can get wealthy from gaming!”
Senator Bussman along with Senator Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) have both left the Senate Republican Caucus over issues with the Republican leadership in the Senate over their handling of the lottery.
Bussman said that his issues are not with the Republican Party but rather with the Caucus leadership in Montgomery. Bussman said in a statement “As a Republican, I have strongly support the Republican mission of fiscal responsibility, limited government and personal freedom. I am a proud member of the Republican Party and will remain a proud member of the GOP. I will no longer affiliate with the Senate majority caucus. In order for the Alabama Senate to operate fairly, we have a set rules by which all members must abide. In both the Republican and Democrat caucuses, there are also rules that apply. This organized process is crucial to a fair and transparent government. It is when these rules are not followed that the breakdown of the system occurs.”
According to Bussman, “The process broke down last week when these rules were violated. These rules cannot be used when convenient and discarded when it is inconvenient. This is not about me. This is not about a lottery. This is about who controls the government of Alabama. Do the people control the government or is it still the back room deals and special interest groups that continue to control the state?”
Bussman said, “I can no longer sit back and ignore the actions of the Alabama Senate Republican Caucus leadership which are misguided, unequally applied, punitive and divisive. As a result, the Caucus has made a significant shift in priorities since 2010. In order for us to be successful in Alabama, we cannot return to the old ways of doing business. We are expected to do better and we must do better.”
During the 2016 Regular Session, the Senate Republican Caucus leadership took away Bussman’s committee chairmanship because he voted against Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) controversial bill to eliminate many of the tenure protections that Alabama’s teachers currently enjoy.
Sen. Marsh has said that Bussman was not punished for voting against the Marsh plan in the Education Policy Committee; but rather because he did not give Marsh the proper advance notice that he would vote no on the powerful Senator’s bill.
Marsh has reportedly told some of the Senators that this will be his last term in the Senate as he is going to run for Governor of Alabama in 2018. Recent polling shows Marsh trailing prospective frontrunners Chief Justice Roy Moore and Attorney General Luther Strange by a considerable number among likely Republican Primary voters.