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Givhan: 2024 gaming proposal appearing more ‘intellectually honest’ than previous

State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) spoke with Dale Jackson on his talk radio show on WVNN about the gambling deal currently in the works by legislative leaders — particularly in the lower chamber. 

Givhan, who is not directly part of the committee taking up the issue, said this upcoming session’s proposal appears to be a better bill than those previously introduced.

“What I hear is that a lot of the absurdities that were in the bill before – let’s get past where you want any gaming or not – I am talking about the absurdities that were in the bill, that were giving a monopoly or an oligopoly to a very limited number of people,” Givhan said. “It sounds like that is being straightened out where you can be intellectually honest.”

Givhan said that despite the improvements in the bill – he is probably still against it.

“The chances of me voting for it are minimal,” Givhan said.

Jackson asked if Medicaid expansion would be part of any gambling deal.

“No, not from what I have heard,” Givhan said. “Trust me. Leader (Anthony) Daniels (D-Huntsville) is probably going to be trying to leverage that I would imagine in a negotiation; but what I am hearing is that we are not focusing on where the revenue will go at this point in time; because that is a distraction to what I think is the ultimate goal of gaining revenue.”

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Jackson asked Givhan about the new State House under construction. The new home for the Alabama Legislature will cost between $325 to 350 million with the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) will own the building and the state will lease it from them with the state having an option to buy it in 20 years.

“Yea, that was always the plan,” Givhan said. “They own it. That’s their statutory required rate of return. That’s what they are supposed to make to make this work. I mean you know what’s interest rates right now. The Prime interest rate is over 8%. You have got to pay a general contractor. We aren’t paying a general contractor. They are our general contractor. As far as the 8% that’s the deal. Now is the $325 million the deal? That’s not a deal. That’s the reality we live in today.”

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Givhan said the Legislature is being criticized by those who felt the money could have been used elsewhere.

“What you will hear is we want you to fund program x, y and z,” Givhan said. “We want you to expand Medicaid. We want you to do this or that and if y’all can build yourselves a new State House that’s what I think you will hear.”

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