Alabama House committee advances lottery bill that would give education 25% of the revenue
MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House Economic Development and Tourism Committee on Wednesday gave a favorable report as substituted and amended to SB 220, State Sen. Greg Albritton’s (R-Atmore) constitutional amendment that would legalize a clean, paper-only lottery in the state of Alabama.
The vote was 7-2. The two “nay” votes were both Democrats from Jefferson County: State Reps. Rolanda Hollis and Neil Rafferty.
State Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) is carrying the bill in the House. He presented a substitute during a committee meeting last week that would change the revenue distribution in the bill so that 75% of funds would flow to the state general fund, while 25% would go to the Education Trust Fund. The committee adopted the substitute unanimously during that previous meeting.
The bill passed beforehand by the Senate did not allow for any revenue to benefit education.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has said that lottery money benefitting the general fund would protect the education fund.
The bill as substituted and amended now proceeds to the House. The full House will also need to vote on adoption of the substitute and two amendments before voting on the bill itself. Adoption of the substitute seems likely to carry given that it is a compromise between ETF and general fund proponents. If a substituted and/or amended version receives passage by the full House, the Senate would then be faced with the option to concur or non-concur. Non-concurrence would result in a conference committee.
Clouse’s substitute also includes some “cleanup language,” as he called it. This includes removing the word “multisovereign” and replacing it with a term clarifying the intent of that language was simply to allow Alabama to participate in Powerball.
Clouse expressed confidence that the substitute does not affect the amount of pro-lottery votes in the Senate, which only passed the bill with the minimum threshold. That being said, Clouse did emphasize that the House vote is expected to be “very close.” He noted this will need to be a bipartisan effort if the House is going to get the necessary 60% threshold of votes.
Albritton, however, has said that the House committee substitute would put the Senate vote count below the needed threshold for passage.
Clouse, like Albritton, has stressed the importance of keeping the legislation to a clean, paper-only lottery.
One amendment would allow paper lottery tickets to be sold at retail stores in what are essentially specialized vending machines. The other amendment would bolster gambling addiction resources with 0.25% (a quarter of one percent) of the lottery revenues.
If the legislature ultimately gives final passage to the legislation, as a constitutional amendment, it would not go to the governor’s desk but instead head directly to a referendum of the people on the March 2020 primary election date.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn