MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA/AP) - After a bill to start a state lottery in Alabama failed on a procedural vote in the House of Representatives, legislators pushed the debate to Wednesday.
It’s been 20 years since Alabamians got to vote on a lottery and Tuesday legislators debated a proposal that would allow people to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would authorize a state lottery played with paper tickets but not with video lottery terminals. Some conservative lawmakers are opposed to legalized gambling, and other legislators want to allow electronic gambling terminals.
“This is ridiculous that we are looking at a paper lottery,” said one legislator.
Intense emotions surrounded the chamber as House lawmakers debated the bill. Representatives are split on the issue.
Some people wanted most of the money for education.
“We have broken school systems here,” said Juandalyn Givan, D-Jefferson County. “We have problems. We have kids that don’t have books.”
“Let’s put it to the tuition for kids. We have so much student loans, let’s put it for students to go to school here, college here,” said Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Pike Road.
Others are saying the general fund is in trouble and will need money from the lottery. The proposal would steer 75 percent of lottery proceeds to the general fund and 25 percent to the education budget.
“When you start identifying all the areas of the general fund from mental health, to prisons, to DHR, to state troopers. At that point they would begin to realize how important it is for public safety,” said Rep. Steve Clouse. R-Ozark.
Some are against a lottery in general.
“It’s all about money. I don’t think people really look and focus on the main issues. The addictions that it does and creates when it starts,” said Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa.
A bill needs to pass a procedural vote in order for lawmakers to vote on the bill officially. A procedural vote is also needed when the budgets have not been passed. The bill could be brought up again during the session but it is unclear when.
If approved by the Alabama legislature, Alabamians would vote on the measure next year.
Alabama is one of five states without a state lottery.