Connect with us

Governor

Governor’s gaming study group meets for the first time

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

The governor’s study group on gambling met in the Alabama Statehouse for the first time Thursday.

Former Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange chairs the group.

The Governor’s Deputy Counsel Erica McKay said that the group has been tasked with gathering accurate data so that the governor and other citizens can make an informed decision on how to proceed.

The last time that the people of Alabama voted on a gambling proposal was 1999 when they rejected Gov. Don Siegelman’s controversial lottery proposal. Since that time, state legislators have introduced 180 different gambling bills that have failed in the legislative process.

McKay said that the purpose of the task force “is simply to gather the facts so that the people of Alabama can make an informed decision.”

Will Parker, the governor’s general counsel, gave a lengthy presentation on how Alabama regulates gambling and how the Poarch Creek Indians operate in our state.

“I am a lawyer. I am not an expert in this area,” Parker said. “No one expects you to be experts, certainly not at this stage.”

Parker said that Section 65 of the 1901 Constitution restricts the authority of the legislature to establish games of chance. This was done in order “to address sources of human misery.”

Advertisement

Over the years, exceptions have been made to this by constitutional amendment.

“Horse and dog racing is one area where the legislature has set up through statutes,” exceptions to that prohibition, Parker said.

Horse or dog racing is allowed in four counties: Greene, Jefferson, Macon, and Mobile.

“NCAA brackets is an area the legislature has not addressed,” Parker said. Bonafide amusement devices were allowed in the 1980s, “Chucky Cheese Law.” These are devices where there is a prize and an element of chance that seem like gambling devices but are actually skill-based games. For example, devices where you have a claw and you try to get a stuffed animal. The Chucky Cheese Law passed in 1986 makes it clear that those machines are allowed.

Daily fantasy sports were allowed under legislation passed in 2019. This is the idea that you can go online and pick some NFL players and see how they do.

If your team does well you win a prize. “That is my understanding. I have not actually played fantasy sports myself,” Parker said.

“Beginning in the 1980s, seventeen counties have persuaded the legislature to pass local constitutional amendments saying that bingo is allowed there,” Parker said. “Each of them are different.”

There is no bingo in Tuscaloosa County, but in these 17 counties, bingo is allowed.

“Certain operators have tested the limit,” Parker said.

In the members’ packet were pictures of “electronic bingo machines” that were seized in 2017 by the state.

“The operators would argue that is bingo,” Parker explained. “I have never played one before, but it is my understanding that these machines play very much like a slot machine.”

“Eighteen cases have been decided, many of them on the bingo issue, and each time the Alabama Supreme Court has decided that the machines are not bingo,” Parker explained. The Cornerstone test was established in an Alabama Supreme Court decision in 2010. Bingo is about human participation. “All that is left is for the law of the state to be enforced,” the Court wrote in one recent decision.

“For purposes of Alabama law, the issue of bingo is settled,” Parker said. “There are some facilities still in Alabama where electronic bingo is still played, but the Attorney General has litigation pending against those facilities.”

“We have three pieces of land in the state that are considered in trust for Indian tribes,” Parker said. These are in Escambia, Elmore, and Montgomery Counties and are under the jurisdiction of Congress.

The Indian Gaming Regulation Act (IGRA) set up a very complicated regulatory system regulated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs,” Parker continued. IGRA defines gambling in three classes. Class 1 is done in a social setting traditional games at your discretion. We don’t talk much about class 1. Class 2 is bingo as well as card games allowed by state law. Class 3 is a broad catch-all category of everything else. To do class 3 gaming requires a compact with the state.

A commission member asked if Indian was the appropriate term to use.

“Congress uses Indians and the Poarch Creeks also use Indians,” Parker said. I apologize if I have offended anyone.

“Right now the state cannot regulate gaming on tribal lands,” Parker said. “There are devices in those facilities that are similar to the ones seized at Victoryland.”

“Federal statutory law is not the same as the Cornerstone decision,” Parker explained. “The Alabama Supreme court rules that bingo is a game played on paper cards. With IGRA that requirement is not there. The Tribe has a right to have bingo.”

“The state sued the Tribe five or six years ago,” Parker said. “The state has an argument that the machines used in the Poarch Creek facilities are not allowed; but under this decision, the state cannot enforce that law. To date, the Federal Justice Department and the Interior Department have not enforced that.”

“Horse racing and dog racing would be Class 3 gaming,” Parker explained. To do Class III they have to have a compact with the state.

“The 11th Circuit said that the state of Alabama is not the appropriate person to enforce that,” Parker explained.

Strange said that the study group will have a public forum by April in which opponents to gambling will get to speak as well as stake owners and various entities. There will be a call to the various entities that we know about.

Strange said that there is some form of gambling in all of our neighboring states. The study group will look at what those states are doing and what the benefits are as well as the costs. A lottery, table games, electronic bingo, slot machines, and sports betting will all be looked at.

The Alabama Political Reporter asked: critics say that gambling preys on those citizens who just are not smart enough to understand math. What is your response to that?

Strange said that we have a Bishop on our group for that. Once you get beyond the moral argument there are benefits to the state that includes money for mental health to address those underlying problems.

 

Advertisement

Bill Britt

Opinion | Marsh hurls accusations at Gov. Ivey. Is he barking mad?

Bill Britt

Published

on

Appearing on the latest edition of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Sen. President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, blamed Gov. Kay Ivey for the loss of some 450,000 jobs in Alabama.

It’s an absurd accusation that any thinking Alabamian knows is a lie. But Marsh wants to hurt Ivey because she exposed him as little more than a petty, greedy-gut politico.

Still stinging from the public humiliation he suffered after Ivey revealed his “wish list” — which included taking $200 million in COVID-19 relief money to build a new State House — Marsh is leveling a cascade of recriminations against the popular governor.

However, what is astonishing is that he would spew brazen lies about Ivey during raging loss and uncertainty caused by a worldwide pandemic. This latest fiction about Ivey creating widespread economic calamity is the unseemly work of a hollow man without empathy, wisdom or decency.

This insane assertion that Ivey is somehow responsible for thousands suffering is as cravenly evil as it is politically stupid.

“The policies that have been put in place by the [Ivey] administration have 450,000 people out of work,” Marsh told show host Don Daily.

Only a fool, a nutjob or a politician would blame Ivey for losing some 450,000 jobs, but there was Marsh, on public television, showing he is perhaps all three.

In the middle of his barking-mad comments, Marsh somehow forgot to mention that he was a member of Ivey’s Executive Committee on the COVID-19 task force and helped make the very policies he now claims led to joblessness and financial ruin for many Alabamians.

Advertisement

Marsh is merely making it up as he goes because his fragile ego, pompous character and rank inhumanity suddenly became fully displayed for every Alabamian to see when he doubled down on building a new State House.

And so, like a guy caught with his pants down, Marsh is pointing his finger at Ivey to distract from his naked indifference toward the struggles of his fellow Alabamians.

Marsh’s plan to spend the CARES Act funds on a State House and other pet projects ignored the sufferings of hundreds of thousands of the state’s most vulnerable citizens and businesses.

Ivey wanted the nearly $1.9 billion in CARES funds to go to help those individuals, businesses and institutions affected by COVID-19. Marsh wanted it as a Senate piggybank, so, he lashes out at her rather than reflect on how he and the State Senate could do better in the future.

Anyone who blames others for their failings is a weakling, not a leader.

Marsh came to power under a scheme hatched around 2008, by then-Gov. Bob Riley. The plan was to make Mike Hubbard the speaker of the House, Marsh as pro tem and Bradley Byrne as governor. Riley would act as the shadow puppet master pulling the strings of power from behind a thin curtain of secrecy, allowing him to make untold riches without public accountability.

Byrne losing the governor’s race to the hapless State Rep. Dr. Doctor Robert Bentley was the first glitch in the plan (yes, during the 2010 campaign for governor, Bentley changed his name to Doctor Robert Julian Bentley so the title Doctor would appear next to his name on the primary ballot).

The second problem for the venture was Hubbard’s avarice, which landed him on the wrong side of the ethics laws he, Riley, Byrne and Marsh championed. Of course, the ethics laws were never meant to apply to them. They were designed to trap Democrats.

Marsh has floundered since Hubbard’s grand departure and with Riley sinking further into the background, it is now apparent that Riley was the brains, Hubbard the muscle and Marsh the errand boy, picking up bags of cash to finance the operation.

Gofers rarely rise to power without the public noticing they’re not quite up for the job, and so it is with Marsh that his office has shown the limits of his abilities.

Marsh wanted to control the COVID-19 relief money to spend on pork projects as he’d done in the past, but Ivey didn’t allow it. To be outsmarted is one thing, but to be beaten by a woman is too much for a guy like Marsh.

Ivey burned Marsh like a girl scout roasting marshmallows over a campfire.

Senator Marshmallow, anyone?

Poor Marsh, with his political career in turmoil, picked the wrong target in Ivey.

Some look at Ivey and see a kind, grandmotherly figure. Ivey is as tough as a junkyard dog, and now Marsh knows what her bite feels like.

Ivey didn’t cause massive job losses. COVID-19 did that. But Marsh got his feelings hurt, bless his heart, so he wants to take Ivey down.

Just like his scheme to commandeer the COVID-19 funds from the people didn’t work, his attack on Ivey won’t either.

People see Marsh for what he is, and it’s neither strong nor competent; it’s weak and ineffectual.

Marsh stood behind Ivey when she announced the state’s health orders wearing an American flag style mask.

He voted for her executive amendment.

And now he lies.

In times of real crisis, true leaders emerge while others of lesser abilities whine. Marsh is complaining. Ivey is leading.

And so the public watches as The Masked Marshmallow takes on Iron-jawed Ivey. It’s not tricky to see how this cage match turns out.

Marshmallow, down in three.

Continue Reading

Governor

Alabama AG warns against nursing homes taking stimulus checks

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

Alabama’s top law enforcement officer on Friday warned against nursing homes intercepting federal stimulus payments to long-term care residents who are Medicaid recipients, but the state’s Nursing Home Association says it’s not aware that is happening, and it hasn’t been contacted by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office over the matter. 

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall in a press release Friday said that federal stimulus checks from the CARES Act cannot be seized by nursing homes to pay for care. 

“We are now beginning to receive a few reports of concern that some Alabama nursing homes may be attempting to take stimulus checks from residents who are Medicaid recipients. If this is happening, it needs to stop now,” Marshall said in a statement. “These stimulus checks are rightfully and legally the property of the residents and must be returned. Confiscation of these checks is unlawful and should be reported to my office.”

Mike Lewis, spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office, in a message to APR on Friday said that all concerns reported to the office will be reviewed and investigated.

“There have been four such reports thus far,” Lewis said in the message.

Alabama Nursing Home Association President Brandon Farmer in a separate press release Friday said that since the federal government’s announcement of the stimulus payment, the association advised members that any stimulus payment deposited to the accounts of nursing home residents was not to be used to reimburse the facility “and is the sole property of the residents.”

“We urge Attorney General Steve Marshall to let us know if he has any reports of diversion of residents’ stimulus payments so that we may clarify any misunderstanding that may exist,” Farmer said. “At this time, we are unaware of any facility where such diversion is occurring.

Farmer said the association has encouraged Marshall to contact them any time he has a concern about nursing homes, or has information he wants to pass along to our members.

Advertisement

“As we have done throughout this pandemic, we stand ready to work with local, state and federal leaders to support Alabama’s nursing home residents and employees,” Farmer said.

Continue Reading

Governor

Legislators briefed on coronavirus crisis

Brandon Moseley and Nicole Jones

Published

on

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and her team on Thursday briefed state legislators on the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis that has gripped the state for the last ten weeks.

State Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris told legislators that the state has 13,058 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection. 528 Alabamians have died from COVID-19 COVID-19 related. More than 250 of those deaths have occurred in nursing homes.

Harris said, “So far, we have been able to fulfill all requests for medication in hospitals.”

Kelly Butler is the Alabama State Finance Director.

“The department is working diligently with each entity to provide aid/reimbursement throughout the state to responsibly use the CARES Act funding,” Butler said.

Butler said that new guidelines that the federal government issued regarding the funding are extremely detailed. Legislators will be given a special form to provide input as to what category or entity they see has the greatest need. Counties and cities will be issued guidelines to know what they can and cannot apply for regarding reimbursements.

Butler said that a website is being worked on to provide updates regarding applying for funds. For now, this information can be found on the governor’s website.

Department of Senior Services Commissioner Jean Brown also addressed legislators. Brown said that GA Foods has placed a successful bid with the Farmers to Families program. The Farmers to Families foods will be sending free foods to Alabama. The delivery of meals will begin after Memorial Day and end on June 30.

Advertisement

Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn told legislators that 100,000 masks and 2,500 gowns have been produced by ADOC textile factory workers. The staff and inmates have been provided at least 4 masks for their protection. Inmates have also received individual bottles of soap and hand sanitizer provided thanks to community support.

Dunn said that as of May 20, 138 inmates have been tested for the coronavirus, with nine testing positive. One of those inmates has died due to a pre-existing health condition. The other eight have recovered. Each person that has tested positive has been properly quarantined.

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington briefed the group as well.

Washington said that more than $1 billion has been paid out in unemployment claims and that the department has processed 88 percent of COVID-19 related claims. Washington said that ADOL has paid out more in total benefits in the last three months than in the previous six years combined.

Washington said that unpaid claims are being looked at daily. Over 500,000 claims were filed in the last two months, more than the last two years combined.

Washington said that guidelines relating to issues such as “employees refusing to return to work when applicable” or “employee quits job instead of returning to work” may be addressed on the DOL website.

Washington warned that fraud claims and online scammers acting as ADOL online are happening and that citizens should be aware of such and report any fraudulent activity to ADOL immediately.

State Superintendent Dr. Erick Mackey addressed the group on the plans for the Alabama State Department of Education.

Mackey said that immediate guidance for reopening schools in June will soon be distributed. This would be for students in 7th grade and above. Students 6th grade and below will be able to attend school beginning in July.

Mackey said that the CDC guidelines that were released on Tuesday have not been adopted by ALSDE. Mackey said that some of these guidelines are not reasonable or doable in our state.

CDC issues new guidelines for schools reopening

“There are many moving parts to creating new procedures, etc., so please understand we are taking into consideration that not one size fits all,” Mackey said. “Our local schools will be making the final decisions as to what procedures are put in place for reopening.”

“We hope to issue recommendations to our schools by 19 June regarding reopening for the 2020-2021 school year,” Mackey told legislators. “We will be asking parents and students to implement new safety procedures, but these will be practical and easy to do.”

“We will leave the start date entirely up to each local superintendent,” Mackey continued. “We have asked that they assure they have time to prepare and adjust to the new procedures prior to opening.”

Mackey said that as of now, all school systems will be starting at some point in August. Distance learning for at-risk children is being looked at and there will be some sort of options for those needing this. Special Needs students needing therapies, etc. are also being looked at heavily.

“There are many moving parts to reopening, so we are working diligently to keep every student and every situation in mind,” Mackey said.

Later that afternoon, Ivey held a press conference to unveil the amended Safer At Home Order, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. today. The new orders, which opens many more businesses, will be in effect through 3 July.

 

Continue Reading

Governor

Ainsworth applauds Ivey for opening more businesses

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth released a statement applauding Thursday’s revised public health order that allows for the reopening of educational institutions, entertainment venues, youth sports, summer camps and other activities with proper enforcement of sanitation and social distancing

“I applaud Gov. Kay Ivey and State Public Health Officer Scott Harris for taking yet another step toward fully reopening businesses and putting Alabama’s economy back on the right track,” Ainsworth said. “After months of patient quarantining and with summertime fast approaching, reopening youth sports, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and other activities will provide both parents and children with much needed entertainment.”

“Allowing campuses to operate gives students of all ages the opportunity to resume their education and continue job training, which is especially important in this economic climate,” Ainsworth continued. “But all of this must be done with proper sanitation, social distancing, and safety measures firmly in place.”

“Now that the worst threat of COVID-19 is behind us, Alabama can more fully focus on restoring old jobs and creating new ones, helping small businesses thrive once again, and rebuilding history’s greatest economy even better than it was before,” Ainsworth concluded.

Trump national campaign committee member former State Representative Perry O. Hooper Jr. similarly praised Ivey for her leadership and her decision to reopen more of the Alabama economy particularly athletic facilities on high school and junior high campuses for offseason football conditioning programs.

“We are very fortunate to have Donald J Trump as our Commander in Chief during this unprecedented time of crisis and Kay Ivey at the helm in Alabama,” Hooper said in a statement. “She showed true leadership once again today at her press conference. She is listening to her task force on re-opening Alabama and the states medical experts. She is developing a plan tailored to the unique needs of Alabama.”

“President Trump and Governor Ivey have worked hard to create the most dynamic economy in Alabama History,” Hooper continued. “We must have it up and running again as soon as possible in a safe responsible manner. I trust, and the President trusts, Kay Ivey to do just that.”

Hooper quoted President Calvin Coolidge: “After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world.” “This is as true today as it ever was,” Hooper said. “This is what makes the United States the greatest country in the World.”

Advertisement

Ivey continues to caution Alabamians that it is safer for them to shelter in their homes whenever possible, especially for Alabamians who are susceptible to a bad outcome from the virus: older Americans, the obese, diabetics, those with asthma, those with heart conditions, and those who are immune-compromised. Protecting ourselves and others requires adherence to the social distancing protocols.

“It takes all of us being vigilant and adhering to the social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” Ivey said in her press conference. “This disease is deadly and is not something to taken lightly. Things aren’t back to normal and frankly we do not know what the new normal looks like.”

“As we go back to work don’t forget we must continue to practice social distancing, refrain from hoarding food and other supplies, and continue to lend our fellow Alabamians a helping hand,” Hooper said. “Together we will make Alabama businesses and American made companies great again.”

96,363 Americans have perished since Feb. 27 due to COVID-19.

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Authors

Advertisement

The V Podcast

Facebook

Trending

.