Alabama Senate approves state lottery bill

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Senate approved a lottery bill favored by Gov. Robert Bentley that creates a state lottery and a commission to oversee it.

Senators debated for more than two hours before passing the bill on a 21-12 vote.

The bill will now go to the Alabama House. If the House approves it, the lottery question would go before Alabama voters.

The Senate defeated a bill Thursday that would have established a lottery and also made lottery terminal machines available at state dog tracks.

The current proposal doesn’t expand gaming options, but since about 4 p.m. Senators offered amendments to the measure.

Senator Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison offered an amendment that would have directed 30 percent or up to 40 percent of lottery proceeds to education. That measure was defeated.   As of now, the lottery amendment earmarks the first $100 million for Medicaid and leaves spending priorities for the rest of the money to the discretion of the legislature.   It will be up to the House of Representatives to determine whether the bill continues in its current form.

An amendment by Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, that barred lottery revenue being used to advertise the lottery was also approved.

Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, passed an amendment that would bar legislators and their family members from working for the lottery.

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee approved a BP oil spill settlement spending bill that passed the House Wednesday. Legislators are expected to be off Monday and return Tuesday.

The full Senate is expected to take up the BP bill next week.

The $639 million spending bill would use about $450 million to repay money the legislature borrowed from the state’s Rainy Day fund in 2009 to ease the effects of proration. The money would also repay cash borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund in 2012 to address budget shortfalls.

Projects in Baldwin and Mobile counties were slated for $191 million and $70 million was allocated to cover the Medicaid shortfall.

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