Alabama House Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) filed legislation in Montgomery on Tuesday (Jan. 12) that would allow the people of Alabama to vote on a statewide lottery for education. If approved by voters, the proceeds from the lottery would be used to fund scholarships to Alabama’s two-year and four-year colleges.
“This is the same lottery bill I have introduced every year for the last seven years,” said Ford. “I believe there’s more support now than ever before for a lottery, but we have to make sure we do it the right way.”
The online newspaper Inside Alabama Politics recently reported that some Republican legislators plan to introduce a lottery bill that only addresses the legality of the lottery and does not specify how the lottery will be run or, most importantly, how the proceeds will be spent.
“I’ve talked with people all over the state,” said Ford. “They want a lottery, but they don’t want it for prisons or Medicaid. Almost every single person I’ve talked to says they’ll vote against it if it’s not an education lottery.
“If the Republicans come with a lottery bill that basically says, ‘Give us a blank check and just trust us to do the right thing with it’, then I can’t see too many people in Alabama supporting that.”
The lottery also faces strong opposition from some Republicans in the Alabama Senate. In an article from the Alabama Political Reporter, Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) said that he and a group of anti-gambling senators would kill any gambling or lottery bill.
“I understand why some legislators are opposed to gambling and a lottery,” said Ford. “What I don’t understand is their opposition to letting the people of Alabama vote on it. If you don’t support the lottery, at least support democracy.”
If any of the proposed lottery bills is passed by the legislature in the coming legislative session, they would then have to be approved by voters in a statewide election. The vote would most likely take place at the same time voters go to the polls for the presidential election this November.