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Holley: Lottery bill needs more discussion

Sen. Jimmy Holley, R-Troy, is one of six co-sponsors of a bill by Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, to allow Alabama citizens a chance to vote on a lottery.

Holley said that does not mean he is in agreement on another bill introduced by McClendon on what to do with the proceeds of the lottery.

“The bill may be co-sponsored by a lot of people with differences in opinion about what kind of lottery we’re talking about,” Holley said. “A lot of people are still going to take a real hard look at whether to consider a lottery bill for scholarships or for infrastructure. I hear more support for the scholarship bill than I do for the other; people look at it as something we can give our children and impact their lives – it offsets some of the negatives that come with a lottery.”

The bill that Holley is co-sponsoring, drafted by McClendon, sets the terms for the vote on a lottery and establishes some of the inner workings of the lottery itself, but it does not direct the revenue from the lottery.

A second bill filed by McClendon proposes that half of all lottery proceeds go to the general fund and half to the Education Trust Fund.

In its current form, the constitutional amendment that would appear on voters’ ballots would not include how the money would be allocated.

Holley said he expects other bills to be filed with different plans for what to do with lottery revenue.

“There are a lot of things to go over, to disseminate and discuss,” Holley said. “The bill is going to change for sure.”

Holley said he has heard support for giving Alabamians the chance to vote on a lottery again.

The last time a constitutional amendment was put before Alabama citizens was 1999, with citizens voting 54-46 percent in opposition of the amendment.

The example of other surrounding states shows that a lottery could be beneficial in Alabama, Holley said.

“It has a lot of merit,” Holley said. “I know Georgia has a lottery as well as Florida and Tennessee. So a lot of the states around us have a lottery in some form or measure. We have to decided what kind of lottery we would want.”

Holley said he expects the lottery to continue being discussed and debated for a longer period of time before the Senate moves forward with any vote on the matter.