Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Bill proposes amendment to Constitution of Alabama allowing state to have lottery


The 2016 session of the Alabama state legislature began Monday, Feb. 8. There were numerous pre-filed pieces of legislation, however, one in particular stood out to some: SB19. The bill, authored by state Senator Jim McClendon of Springville, would propose “an amendment to Section 65 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 to allow the Legislature to provide for a lottery to be operated on behalf of and for the benefit of the state under terms and regulations set forth by general law.” Currently, Alabama is one of six states that do not have a lottery.

In an interview Tuesday evening, McClendon went into further detail about his bill. He noted that Representative Alan Harper has introduced the same bill in the House of Representatives, and that the creation of the bill was purely due to the outcry he had been hearing from his constituents, particularly those who are “tired of driving to Georgia.”

Whereas the lottery in Georgia is geared toward education, such as the HOPE Scholarship program, McClendon’s amendment is not. He noted “after the payouts and administrative costs we’re looking at $85 million annually to help pay the bills for the state of Alabama.” The leader of the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives has introduced a bill that would fund scholarships to the University as well as other colleges across the state. McClendon said he was not familiar with the details of Ford’s bill.

“All my bill does, it gives voters of Alabama the chance to vote yes or no, to change the constitution to allow a lottery,” McClendon said.

McClendon’s bill would allow for the creation of a lottery, but would not require one. The text says the Legislature “may establish or otherwise provide for a lottery.”

In 1999, Alabama voters rejected the creation of a lottery that was designed to fund education.

“These folks are ready for a lottery,” McClendon said.

Students at the University have voiced their support of a lottery for education. Brandt Mace, a senior majoring in mathematical statistics, noted his support of the lottery.

“We might as well take advantage of the opportunity to get tax money to improve education here in Alabama,” Mace said.

Greyson Piesco, a sophomore majoring in secondary education, echoed Mace’s sentiment. Piesco, however, remarked that the lottery is “kind of a tax on the poor because statistically, lower incomes use the lottery more than higher incomes.” Despite this, Piesco noted that he would favor a lottery because “the money could be used really well for education.”

To amend the Alabama constitution, a three-fifths majority in both houses of the Alabama State Legislature, as well as a simple majority of voters, is required. The alternative is for a majority vote in both houses that calls for a ballot measure asking voters to allow a constitutional amendment.  

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