Alabama senator makes one last push for lottery vote before end of legislative session

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — As the 2016 Alabama legislative session rushes to the finish line, one legislator is pushing for a lottery vote one last time.

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee on Thursday voted 4-2 for a constitutional amendment that would allow Alabamians to vote on a state lottery.

Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) introduced a lottery bill at the beginning of the legislative session, and said at the time it would raise $300 million in additional revenue for the state on an annual basis. However, McClendon’s bill does not stipulate what the funds would be used for. The bill passed this week by the Tourism and Marketing Committee came with the understanding that McClendon would rework his bill to include more details on where the money would go before it comes up for a final vote in the Senate.

“I am sponsoring this because of constituent requests,” McClendon told ABC 33/40’s Lauren Walsh. “Throughout my district, people have said why don’t we have a lottery in Alabama? We’re driving to Georgia and Tennessee. We’re driving out of state and spending our money and we’d like to spend our money right here at home.”

McClendon hopes to figure out the details of his bill, like where lottery funds would be allocated, within the next few days. He says there’s “time enough” to get the bill passed before the end of session.

A gambling expansion of any kind will face fierce opposition from Alabama’s large swath of evangelical voters.

Dr. Joe Godfrey, executive director of the Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP), an almost 80-year-old organization that describes itself as “Alabama’s moral compass,” last month expressed concerns that “illegal gambling is taking over this state” and reiterated his group’s opposition to an expansion of any kind.

But there are signs that some longtime gambling opponents are considering softening their stance.

“Historically, I’ve opposed them,” powerful state senator Jabo Waggoner (R- Vestavia Hills) told ABC 33/40. But he says he is now considering throwing his support behind a bill that would bring the issue up for a vote again.

In 1999, Alabamians voted down Gov. Don Siegelman’s proposed “education lottery” 54% to 46%. Since then, numerous statewide candidates — most of them Democrats — have run on a platform of letting the people vote again.

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Director's Update

2018 Regular Session Delegation Bills

By Mimi Penhale, Legislative Director


The 2018 Regular Legislative Session began on January 9, 2018. In a typical year, session begins sometime in late February, but in the last year of the quadrennium, session begins much earlier. By beginning in January on an election year, individuals who are involved with the legislative process are able to finish their work in Montgomery earlier in the year, allowing them time to focus on campaigns in their districts before the primaries in June.

This session, will again focus on budgets, but this time around the Legislature will focus on funding mental healthcare in the state prison system and the Children's Health Insurance Program. Prison’s have been a major concern for our state over the last few years, but this year is different due to the state being court ordered to improve mental health care in prisons. At this point, the goal is to find funding for the program that will meet the guidelines set out by the court order.  The Legislature is also concerned that it will have to provide funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, since the federal government has not renewed funding for the program at this time. One good thing for the General Fund Budget is that Medicaid is not asking for more money this year; instead, they are working on a surplus from last years budget. This will free up some funds to help address the previously discussed issues facing our legislators.

Being the last year in this legislative cycle, we typically see less bills filled and legislation tends to be less controversial, due to many members of the Legislature seeking reelection. This is by no means a rule, it is just the typical atmosphere found in politics. For a breakdown of what kind of bills the Shelby Delegation has prefilled for this session, see below:

Rep. Jim Carns has no bills prefilled for this session. Rep. Carns is serving as the Chair of both the Commerce and Small Business Committee and the Jefferson County Delegation, as well as, serving on the Children and Senior Advocacy, the Shelby County Delegation, and the County and Municipal Government Committees.

Rep. Dickie Drake has four bills filed, at this time. These bills focus on military issues, which are very important to Rep. Drake, as he continues to serve as Vice Chair of the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. Two of the bills focus on giving veterans free admission to all state parks and giving preference on competitive state bids to vendors owned by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also has some local legislation for Leeds, Alabama and that would remove the legislative procedure that a bill must be read at length prior to final passage.

Rep. Ellis is entering his second session as a legislator. He has one bill this session that would require certain evidence of comparable sales or leases to be admissible in taxpayer appeals for the rulings of boards of equalization fixing value of commercial property. He will continue to serve on the Local Legislation and Shelby County Delegation Committees, as well as Fiscal Responsibility and Ways and Means Education Committees.  

Rep. Allen Farley has filed one bill this session. The bill is local legislation for the Pleasant Grove area. Rep. Farley is serving as the Vice Chair of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, as well as serving as a member of the Children and Senior Advocacy, Judiciary, Shelby County Delegation, and Jefferson County Delegation Committees.

Rep. Matt Fridy has seven bills he is currently carrying this session. The bills range from laws that would effect the Alabama Family Trust Corporation, the Alabama Uniform Voidable Transfers Act, workers compensation laws related to spousal benefits extending past remarriage, and changes to the Alabama Assistance and Service Animal Integrity in Housing Act.  Rep. Fridy is also carrying two bills at would help stop attorneys from pressuring individuals to peruse litigation following an accident, by increasing the penalties on attorneys and making traffic reports confidential.  He is also carrying a bill that would put into law that parents have the right to direct upbringing, education, care, and custody of their children.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Rep. Arnold Mooney has filed twelve bills so far, this session. His bills focus on a variety of issues, including; changes to the eminent domain law, decreasing the cost of pre-trial intervention for individuals who drive under the influence, allowing schools to display the Ten Commandments and “In God we trust” without penalty, increasing eligibility requirements for TANF and SNAP recipients, and exempting rooms and spaces that are not used for overnight accommodations from the Lodging tax, to name a few. Notably, he is also carrying legislation that would place private sewer systems under the regulation of the Public Service Commission.

Rep. April Weaver is had filled ten bills this session. Her bills focus mostly on Healthcare issues, such as; tax credits for rural nurse practitioners, palliative and end of life legislation for adults and minors, legislation that would create a review committee for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, penalizing the trafficking of Fentanyl, and legislation that relates to the Nursing Board. Rep. Weaver also has legislation related to Conservation and Natural Resources, which would make criminal penalties only applicable for intentional violations.

Sen. Slade Blackwell has three pre-filed bills. His bills are all amendments to previous laws; changes to the council manager act of 1982, term limit changes for Craft Training Board members, and continued education legislation for the Insurance Department.  Sen. Blackwell is again serving as the Banking and Insurance Chair, as well as serving on Confirmations, Finance and Taxation Education, Health and Human Services, and Jefferson and Shelby County Delegations.

Sen. Jim McClendon, who serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Health Committee, has filled six bills so far this session. This year, his legislation is ranges from changes to unemployment compensation benefits, reclassifying treasures and artifacts as cultural resources so they are eligible for or listed in National Register of Historic Places, allowing physician assistants, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners authority to sign forms which may be signed by a physician, legislation related to the State Department of Education and Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and their ability to consult with Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind to track progress in deaf and hard-of-hearing children, and establish the Alabama Cold War Victory Medal Act. One of Sen. McClendon’s most notable pieces of legislation is his legislation that would shorten the election cycle for special elections to one general election.

Sen. Jabo Waggoner is carrying two bills, so far, this session. His prefilled bills are regarding how the salary for the Securities Commission is set and an amendment to how motor vehicles are to be managed while overtaking and passing other vehicles. He will continue to serve as the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and the Jefferson County Delegation, as well as, Vice Chair of the Senate Confirmations Committee and a member of six other Senate committees.

Sen. Cam Ward has filed seventeen bills this session. His large list of legislation focuses on a variety of things, a few of which are changes to the criminal code, amendments to sex offender public notices, increasing penalties for human trafficking, changes to the eminent domain law, weed abatement and municipal ordinance legislation, legislation that would expand the types of cases private judges can hear, legislation related to private judges, a bill on court cost and docket fees waived due to substantial hardship, legislation that would add first and second offenders to the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act, and making the Joint Legislative Committee on Energy Policy permanent, to name a few. Sen. Ward is also carrying legislation this session regarding changes to Alabama’s Juvenile Justice laws. This legislation hopes to try to change the current system by keeping children from becoming repeat offenders by utilizing successful tactics employed by other states’ juvenile programs.

Shelby County Legislative Delegation (C) 2013