Our View: Let people decide bingo issue

Our View

In short: The issue of legalizing bingo in Alabama should be decided by voters.

In an editorial in Sunday’s Tuscaloosa News, state Sen. Roger Bedford, R-Russellville, proposed putting what he described as a “simple bingo bill” to a statewide vote.

He’s absolutely right.

For too long, the issue of bingo has been a political volleyball in Montgomery. Politicians have voiced their opinions as representatives of the people of Alabama, and their loyalty to constituents has been questioned. Regardless of whether or not state leaders have been working for the best interests of Alabamians or Mississippi casinos or whatever group is allegedly corrupting the process, direct democracy is the simplest answer.

Mississippi gaming interests won’t corrupt individual Alabamians. One voter cannot crusade against it while the rest are for it. In the end, Alabama is governed by its people, and that is who should be making the decisions.

Politicians can make laws based on their campaign promises, opinion polls and what they hear at town hall meetings, but they are always filtering what the people want through their own lenses with their own biases. Bedford is calling for a simple bill, one that is just a “yes” or “no” vote on whether bingo should be allowed, not one that gives special treatment to certain interests preferred by politicians. No exceptions, no handouts, no selective tax cuts – just the law.

A direct vote would also give the bingo issue something it’s been needing: decisiveness. The ongoing debates between Gov. Bob Riley and the Supreme Court over the legality of the governor’s raids haven’t tackled the heart of the issue: What does Alabama want?

A simple vote would answer that question. There would be no more debates over how to enforce the law if the law itself was the matter in question. The state should not be concerned with enforcing a law the people may feel shouldn’t have existed in the first place.

For a state that puts minor local issues to a statewide public vote, an issue as seemingly important as bingo should get the same treatment. It’s time for state leaders in Montgomery to stop wondering what the people are thinking and just ask.

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White’s editorial board.