Lotto bill dies

Published 3:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2016

A lottery bill is dead after returning to the state senate for final approval on Friday.

Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, confirmed to media that the bill will not make it out of the special session.

McClendon was the sponsor of the bill that was brought forward by Gov. Robert Bentley.

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Bentley touted the bill to allow a vote on a state lottery as a potential solution to the state’s Medicaid funding crisis.

Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Troy, was one of the representatives to vote for the bill in the House on Thursday.

Boothe responded Friday to claims from senators that an amendment added by the House defined the lottery too narrowly by deeming it a game played with paper tickets.

“I didn’t see that as a problem,” Boothe said. “That’s what Florida has. The way it was previously written, it could have possibly been interpreted to allow lottery machines. The amendment would have prevented that.”

Bentley told members of the media that the Senate vote was a vote against “half a million children on Medicaid” and that the bill’s death means that the state will lose $748 million in federal funding.

But Boothe said that he doesn’t see what effect a state lottery would have in the state’s immediate budget crisis.

“If that bill had passed, it still would be up to two years before lottery proceeds benefitted the general fund,” Boothe said. “I don’t see how the lottery could solve that issue this year.”

Boothe said that he voted to pass the bill because he believes that the people have the right to vote on whether they want a lottery.

The Senate will now consider the House’s bill that determines how money received in a settlement from the BP oil spill would be sent. The bill as it is currently written would send $35 million directly to fund Medicaid. The Senate could make changes to the bill that could affect that amount. The House will reconvene on September 6 and would have three days to consider any changes made by the Senate and pass the bill.

“It’s a big problem,” Boothe said about the Medicaid funding gap. “Hopefully we can get some form of the [BP oil spill] bill through. I heard someone say the other day that if something isn’t done about it, a wheel’s going to run off.”