Both the Senate and the House of Representatives in Alabama have approved a bill proposed by Governor Robert Bentley to approve lottery operations in the state and establish a commission for its regulation.
The bill was passed 64-35 in House of Representatives this week on its second vote after the first attempt fell short by a few votes.
It will now be sent back to the Senate since the House has made changes to the bill after the Senate passed it. Alabama is one of few states in United States that doesn’t have lottery. Gov. Bentley proposed the bill as a means to get additional funding for the state’s General Fund and Medicaid. For more information on US Gambling Laws, checkout our dedicated page available here.
According to the terms of the bill 90 percent of the funds generated would go to the General Fund while 10 percent would be made available to the Education Trust Fund. The first $100 million sent to the General Fund would be for the Medicaid program. An amendment to the bill that allocates 1 percent of the proceeds from the state lottery earmarked for the General Fund to volunteer fire departments was also approved.
Once the bill receives final approval from the legislative houses, it will be put to the voters for approval since it is a constitutional amendment. There has been extensive debate on whether the bill is eligible to be put to vote in November this year.
Secretary of State John Merrill who leads operations for the state elections has said that the bill had to be approved this week for it to be put to vote on November 8. Rep. Alan Harper, sponsor of the bill disagreed and stated that according to state election law lawmakers had until the end of the week to approve it and send it to the ballot.
The state’s law rules that amendments to the ballots can be made up to 74 days before an election. The Secretary of State has asked for an emergency opinion from the Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange on the issue.
In case the bill misses the deadline for being put to vote this year, it will have to wait until the general election in 2018 or a special election will need to be scheduled. Gov.Bentley has pushed for the bill to be put before the state’s voters this year.
In a statement, Bentley said
I'm asking the legislators to let the people vote on this issue. We have at least half-a- million children that are in poverty in this state right now who will possibly lose their health insurance unless we adequately fund Medicaid.