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Lottery fails on procedural vote, leadership trying to save it

Brandon Moseley

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The Alabama House of Representatives rejected the lottery bill on its first procedural vote on Tuesday before any amendments could be introduced or final passage even discussed,

Senate Bill 220 is sponsored by State Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore.

It is being carried in the House by State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark.

Clouse said SB220 would give the people of Alabama the right to vote on whether or not to create a paper only lottery: a “clean lottery.” Seventy-five percent of the money would go the state’s general fund budget, and 25 percent would go to the education trust fund. Clouse estimated that the lottery would generate $167 million in new revenues.

The Albritton lottery bill passed in the State Senate but ran into a buzz saw of bipartisan opposition in the House.

Following a heated debate on the merits of the bill, Clouse asked the body to approve the budget isolation resolution. The body has to approve the BIR to allow the bill to be debated. The BIR vote failed by just one vote.

As the sponsor, Clouse can still ask for the bill to be reconsidered.

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Tuesday night, Clouse spoke to reporters.

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Clouse said he had the votes to get the BIR, but not passage.

“There were members who support my bill who had stepped out of the chamber,” Clouse said.

Clouse said there were also Democrats who voted against the BIR on Tuesday, who want the bill to come to the floor so that they can introduce their amendments to it on the floor.

Since SB220 is an amendment to the Alabama Constitution, it needs 63 votes to pass.

“I need six to 13 Democrats,” Clouse said.

Clouse said that he was going to meet with Democrats on developing a compromise bill that would pass and that he was willing to increase the amount of money going to education if that is what is needed to get a deal.

Clouse said that he would not lose Republican votes by changing the distribution of funds.

When asked about whether the lottery may be considered during a potential special session on prison funding, Clouse said it is possible.

“That is a good idea, and it will be on the table in that meeting in an hour,” Clouse said.

Following the meeting, Clouse told reporters that he still did not have the votes.

There was no motion to reconsider the BIR on SB220 Tuesday night.

State Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile, told reporters she would support Clouse’s bill if 50 percent of the money is earmarked for education and the other 50 percent was earmarked for Medicaid Expansion.

Some Democrats want to add amendments to SB220 that would legalize electronic bingo at Greenetrack and Victoryland in Greene and Macon Counties.

Clouse told reporters that he did not know if he would lose Republican support if the Greene and Macon County amendments were added.

Late Tuesday night, Alabama House Democrats announced that they will hold a news conference on Wednesday to discuss the stalled lottery legislation.

“For decades, Democrats have worked to pass a state lottery bill that funds education and expands access to affordable health care,” the House Democrats stated. “House Democrats believe there must be clarity and accountability for lottery revenue and any legislation must be for the good of the state as a whole.”

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