August 22, 2016
Last week the Alabama Legislature began meeting for the Special Session called by Governor Robert Bentley to address a statewide lottery and the state’s Medicaid Agency which is facing a budget shortfall of nearly $85 million. After adjourning on Friday, the legislature will return Tuesday August 23 to continue their work.
House Passes BP Settlement Bill
The legislature met for five straight days working on bills aimed at addressing the shortfall. The House of representatives focused mainly on a bill that would distribute the funds from the BP Settlement. According to the settlement Alabama will get $1 billion over the next 18 years from the 2010 oil spill. Under HB36 the state would take a smaller amount up front, approximately $640 million by doing a bond issue. The version passed by the House would allocate about $450 million to be used for debt repayment and $191 million for coastal roads. Paying $450 million towards debt would free up around $70 million in interest payments that could be used to fund Medicaid. The bill was approved by the Senate Committee on Tourism & Marketing and is expected to be taken up on Tuesday.
Senate Passes Governor Bentley’s Lottery Bill
The Alabama State Senate spent the majority of the week debating two lottery bills. The first lottery bill by Senator Jim McClendon was a proposal to set up a statewide lottery and establish video gaming terminals in some cities and counties that already have gambling facilities. That particular bill failed on a procedural vote and the senate took up Senator McClendon’s second lottery bill, the one proposed by Governor Bentley. On Friday the State Senate added a number of amendments to the bill, one which would split the lottery revenues between the General Fund and Education Trust Fund 90% and 10% respectively. Another amendment prohibits the lottery commission from employing lobbyists and another prohibits legislators or their family members from working for the lottery commission. After several hours of debate the amended bill passed the senate 21-12 and will be transmitted to the house for consideration.