House Majority Leader Ledbetter: Gambling issue could be tackled in special session later this year
Last week’s failure by Alabama Senate to pass a comprehensive gambling bill has made the future for gaming uncertain.
If the legislature cannot pass a bill this year, history suggests it is unlikely to be considered in the fourth year of a quadrennium with elections on the horizon. However, State House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) says that even if lawmakers cannot pass legislation during this year’s regular session, don’t rule out something by the end of 2021.
During an interview on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, Ledbetter raised the possibility of Gov. Kay Ivey calling a special session for the issue, which could aid passage given it would be the legislature’s sole focus during that special session.
“[W]ho is to say that we won’t come back in a special,” he said. “I know we have got a lot of things on the table. Reapportionment is going to have to come up after we get the Census numbers in. I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see at least one or two specials. I certainly feel like one of them is coming, and who knows — the Governor could put something in the call for us to look at this gaming. I mean, it makes sense sometimes when you do that on big issues simply because there’s not so much noise around. That’s one thing you’ve got to focus on — what’s in the call. All the other issues that always surround the session — we’ve got hundreds of bills that’s been filed, so that kind of alleviates some of that. You kind of focus in on the big issue. That would not surprise me. That could happen.”
Ledbetter said he believed Ivey recognized the benefits of reaching a solution on gaming for the state, which could motivate her to act.
“I think the thing about it is, with casinos already being in the state and some of the gaming issues that we already have — she sees a lot of money that’s being spent in-state that the state has not been able to get anything from,” Ledbetter explained. “I mean, they’re not capturing any of those funds, and if we could get some kind of compact, we could do that. She sees that. That’s a lot of money that is being left out there, and the people in my district certainly want a vote on the lottery issue. Polling shows that. If you talk around my district and different parts of the state, people want a chance to vote. At the end of the day, this is the people’s choice, and all we can do is put it on the ballot. They vote up or down. It’s their choice. I think a lot of people are ready to put it to rest, however it goes in the general public.
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.