BIRMINGHAM (TAB) — Gov. Robert Bentley released his proposed amendment to the Constitution of Alabama this morning, which would authorize a state lottery and direct its proceeds to the General Fund. The amendment will be voted on in the special session of the Legislature that begins Aug. 15 to find a solution for the $85 million Medicaid shortage.
The amendment stipulates a seven-person commission to oversee what would be called the Alabama Lottery. The lottery proceeds would then be directed to the General Fund “for the ordinary expenses of the executive, legislative and judicial departments of the state and for principal and interest payments on the public debt,” the amendment reads.
And while it states that “nothing in this amendment authorizes any activity beyond the Alabama Lottery,” the legal definition in Alabama of a lottery as “any game of chance” opens the door for further gambling legislation.
“If we pass a law (legalizing a state lottery), that means the Legislature can have any kind of gambling,” said Birmingham lawyer Eric Johnston, who also represents the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizen’s Action Program.
Legislators would have to pass the amendment through both the House of Representatives and the Senate by Aug. 24 in order to get the measure on the November ballot. And even if voters approved a state lottery, it wouldn’t help the Medicaid shortfall until late 2017 at the earliest.
For the full story or to read the proposed amendment, go to www.thealabamabaptist.org.