House Speaker McCutcheon: No floor vote on gambling on last day of session — ‘Time just got away from us’
Last week, the Alabama House of Representatives failed to get a floor vote on gambling legislation that would have allowed for the creation of a statewide lottery and casino gaming.
The possibility of a vote remained up until the end of the legislative day late on Thursday. However, with only one day remaining in the 2021 legislative regular session, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) downplayed the chances of the House considering a gaming bill on the last day.
During an appearance on Alabama Public Television, McCutcheon discussed the issues that led to the House’s inability to get a bill to the floor, which he said not only involved issues from with the House chamber but also overcoming obstacles in working with the Senate and the Governor’s office as well.
“Time just got away from us, and we had been working over the last three-and-a-half, almost four weeks,” he said on APTV’s “Capitol Journal.” “We received a bill from the Senate dealing with the gaming comprehensive plan, and it had enabling legislation with it. And I have to give credit to my House members. They have worked diligently trying to get a product out that we could work with, and to work with the Governor’s office in that process was a little challenging. But we were working very hard to try to get something that could get passed on the last few days. Before we got a product, a bill we could put before a committee — we got it out of committee and we got it ready to go to the floor — there were some issues that came up, and they were last-minute issues. The minority party had some real issues with some wording — such things as the Medicaid expansion, the funding mechanism that they were working very hard for, the inclusive language of ownership for black owners. Then we had the issue of some of our counties that have these bingo locations — Lowndes County, over in Greene County. We’ve got about 18 scattered around the state. Well, they came into play all of a sudden.”
McCutcheon laid out the challenges of taking on the comprehensive legislation this close to the end of the 2021 regular session. He also offered his version of the late-hour standalone lottery package introduced but then pulled back before the end of the legislative day.
“At the end of the day — we felt like some of the members in the House were really, really listening to their constituents,” he said. “And their constituents were telling them, ‘Let us vote on a lottery. We’re not in tune with all of the details concerning the comprehensive gaming package. But we are concerned about a lottery in Alabama.’ Because of that, I thought, let’s just see if we can put a lottery bill together. We were able to come up with just a short bill. I think it was five-and-a-half, six pages long. It was a simple [constitutional amendment] vote on a lottery.”
McCutcheon said during the introduction of the now-infamous special order calendar last Thursday, he realized members did not have a physical copy of the bill.
“I just said this is not the way we do business in the House,” McCutcheon said. “There’s no sense in trying to rush this through. I want members to have a product that they have seen. So, we just pulled it off the floor.”
“I don’t think it is possible because what product we may end up sending to the Senate, they would probably want to go to conference on it,” he added. “Then you’ve got debate on the motion for the conference committee. You’ve got debate on the motion to concur with the conference committee report. And there’s just so many hours that’s going to be in Monday, and I don’t think there’s enough time there.”
McCutcheon also said there was “a chance” the gambling issue could be on the 2022 November election in some form, assuming the legislature would take it up early in the 2022 regular session, which will begin in January given it is an election year.
@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.