State lottery likely won’t make it on November ballot

voting booth

Opponents of a state lottery in the Alabama House of Representatives used a procedural rule to block a committee from considering a state lottery bill Tuesday, effectively killing a plan to bring a lottery a statewide vote Nov. 8.

In a 59-33 vote, House members fell short of the four-fifths vote necessary to suspend House rules and allow a committee to meet to consider the lottery proposal.

For the lottery to still make it on the November general election ballot, the state Legislature would have to pass a state constitutional amendment by end of day Wednesday.

An amendment narrowly passed the Senate Friday. Tuesday’s committee vote would have teed up the vote in the full House Wednesday, in order to make it before voters in November.

Moulton Republican state Rep. Ken Johnson called for the procedural vote Tuesday to slow down the process, which he said was moving too fast.

“You can call it delay, but I call it being deliberative,” Johnson said during debate on the House floor.

“The power to change the constitution does not lie in your hands,” Tuscaloosa Democrat Chris England responded. “It lies in the people’s hands.”

Gov. Robert Bentley called a special session of the Alabama Legislature last month to discuss his proposed lottery plan, which he projects will raise $225 million per year to pay for the state’s Medicaid program. Alabama Medicaid is perennially short of cash and Medicaid officials have warned of cuts if the state doesn’t find an additional $85 million for the program in 2017.