House committee to consider lottery bill today

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Troy, said that he doesn’t expect a lottery bill to be passed in time to make it onto the general election ballot.

“To me, it’s very doubtful that the bill could get passed by [August 24], if at all,” Boothe said Monday. “It has to go through readings and the committee before it can come before the House.”

After five days of deliberation, the Senate on Friday approved a lottery bill in a 21-12 vote. The measure now goes to the House of Representatives, where the Economic Development and Tourism committee will consider the measure today. If the bill passes committee, it would go before the full House on Wednesday.

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The House will have to approve it on Wednesday though in order to get the amendment onto the general election ballot.  If the bill is not passed by Wednesday, it will not make it onto the Nov. 8 general election ballot. A special election would have to be called in order for Alabama citizens to take any action on it, or citizens would have to wait until the next election.

“I really don’t think there ought to be a special election, but that’s not my call,” Boothe said. “I don’t know exactly what the cost would be, but it costs a significant amount of money to have a special election and this would be the only thing on the ballot.”

Boothe said that he believes the majority of Alabama citizens want to have a vote on the lottery, including those in Troy and surrounding areas.

“I’ve gotten calls from both sides of the aisle,” Boothe said, “but the largest number of calls that I’ve gotten are people wanting the opportunity to vote on the lottery, whether up or down.”

Gov. Robert Bentley initially proposed the bill as a fix for the state’s $85 million Medicaid gap, with all of the money generated by the lottery going to the general fund. Bentley called a special session to consider the bill, as well as other Medicaid funding options, such as the BP oil settlement bill that passed in the House last week.

Over the course of its deliberation, the bill was amended nine times before finally being approved by the Senate. One amendment designates the first $100 million generated by the lottery to go to the Alabama Medicaid Agency.

The House passed a bill on Wednesday that allocates $70 million from the BP oil spill settlement to partly cover the Medicaid gap. The bill also allocated $450 million to debt payments and $191 million to projects in Mobile and Baldwin counties, which were two of the counties hit hardest by the spill.

Now that the Senate has passed the lottery bill, they can begin deliberation on the House’s BP bill.