Alabama Legislature 2016 special session preview

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A topic that has long divided the Alabama Legislature will take center stage Monday when lawmakers return to Montgomery for a special session called by Gov. Robert Bentley last month.

Starting 4 p.m. Monday, lawmakers will begin to consider the fate of a state lottery as a solution to the state’s perennial budgetary shortfall. The state last considered a lottery in 1999, under Gov. Don Siegelman, when it was voted down.

In order for a lottery proposal to make it on the general election ballot Nov. 8, the Legislature would need to approve it no later than Aug. 24.

Friday, Bentley announced he’d also allow the Legislature the opportunity to address the allocation of the state’s BP settlement, but he wasn’t optimistic lawmakers could come to an agreement on how to use the funds.

In the regular 2016 session, spending proposals fell apart over a disagreement between northern and southern Alabama lawmakers over how much money should be spent on state debt versus road projects in south Alabama.

But before any of the policy proposals are considered, the Legislature will name the new Speaker of the House — a vacancy created after former House Speaker Mike Hubbard was convicted in June of 12 felony counts of public corruption.

“This call [for a special session]is designed for the Alabama Legislature to address adequate support of essential state services including children, the elderly, people with mental illness and support for men and women in law enforcement,” Bentley said. “A primary focus of this special session is for legislators to allow the people within their district the right to vote on a statewide lottery. I am looking forward to working with lawmakers over the next few days as we address legislation that is simple, clean and transparent.”

Updated at 8/15/16 at 12:25 p.m. with statement by Gov. Bentley.

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