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Lottery bill narrowly passes committee, sponsor says chances of passage are unlikely

By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

A bill that would allow Alabama to participate in multi-state lotteries, like the Powerball, passed out of its committee on Wednesday 3-2, but one influential senator voiced his opposition to the measure.

The bill’s sponsor Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, said that the bill would allow Alabama to take a piece of the multi-billion dollar industry. According to his estimates, Alabama would gain $46 million in revenue that would split 75-25 between the General Fund and Educational Trust Fund, respectively.

Even if the legislation does pass the Legislature, it will have to be voted on by Alabama because it is a state Constitutional amendment.

But among the committee, Chairman and President Pro Tempore of the state Senate Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said he didn’t support the measure.

Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh listens as a bill’s proponent makes his case at a committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

Marsh, who has sponsored lottery legislation in the past, said the language in the bill was of a concern to him and voted against the bill.

Of the chairman’s concerns, was that additional bills could be passed that would not require a state Constitutional Amendment, meaning that it would only need the Legislature’s and governor’s approval.

After the meeting, Sanford said the chance’s of the bill’s passage was “slim to none” indicating that the bill may face opposition in a Legislative Session that seems to be drawing to a close in less than a month.

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The bill now goes before the Senate for their consideration.

At the committee meeting, Alabama Citizens Action Group Executive Director Joe Godfrey spoke against the bill and lotteries in general.

Godfrey called gambling a “failed policy” and said it was a regressive tax that affected the poorest communities. He also expressed concerns that the bill would leave the state addicted to the revenues that it would bring.

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