State Rep. Clouse: Would like to have lottery vote this November — Gaming commission should have been done 6-7 months ago
House Ways and Means General Fund Committee chair State Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) thinks there is still a possibility that a referendum on a lottery could be on Alabama’s November statewide ballot.
During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Friday, Clouse said despite Gov. Kay Ivey naming a commission to study gaming earlier in the day, a lottery could be done separately from a discussion regarding other gaming, primarily the so-called legacy dog track gaming facilities and the casinos operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
The Dale Country Republican lawmaker said he would like to see the vote on this general election ballot to save taxpayers the cost of a statewide special election, especially given the November election is expected to generate the highest turnout of any election in a four-year time span.
“I would like to have this, and hope to have it still decided in this legislative session so we could be voting in November,” Clouse said. “You know, the November election, when we’re voting for president, is the most highly participated in election in the state, particularly this year when we’ve got a hotly contested U.S. Senate race. I would certainly rather do it in November, where there would be no additional cost to the taxpayers instead of having a special election on down [the road] that will cost about $3 million, you know?”
The clock could be ticking for Montgomery to move on a lottery. As the quadrennium winds down, the likelihood of the legislature taking on a big issue like a lottery will decrease. He added that Ivey’s gaming commission was “fine,” but said it was his preference for that to have been done earlier.
“I mean, this is the year to do it,” Clouse argued. “If you want to do a commission, that’s fine. But it should have been done six or seven months ago so it would be ready to go by the time we went into session. And even at that, I still don’t agree that the lottery should be a part of it. There are certainly a lot of things they can study with the Indian compact situation and with the local legislation that affects Greene and Macon, and Jefferson County dog tracks and Lowndes County. I mean, they’ll certainly have their plate full with those issues. But I just don’t think a lottery should be a part of it.”
Under Clouse’s education lottery proposal, half of the revenue generated would go to Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program, and the other half would fund need-based college scholarships.