/Lottery not dead but no longer a sure bet after stunning defeat in House

Lottery not dead but no longer a sure bet after stunning defeat in House

The House and Senate leaders had earlier agreed to the conference report. It was defeated by 60-54 votes. The bill was still on hold on a motion for reconsideration, so House members can revive the proposal on Tuesday. Monday night, the Senate passed the same proposal with a 31-17 vote. The stunned Rep. Richard Bennett (R-Long Beach), who handled the bill in the House, said, “This is one those votes that you make depending upon what your people want.” “Ethically and morally, if you’re against it,” said a stunned Rep. Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach. The bill would create the Mississippi Lottery Corp. as a quasi-government agency. It would be overseen in part by a five-member board made up of governor’s appointees. These appointees would choose a president for the corporation. The governor would veto this selection. They would also hire a private company that would oversee the game’s implementation. The proposal was estimated to generate $80 million annually in revenue, with the majority going towards state road and bridge repairs. The conference report was modified by leaders to direct any excess revenue of $80 million to Education Enhancement Fund. The lottery revenue would flow into the General Fund after 10 years. Gov. Bryant, who wrote the bill and has supported it in special session, blamed Democrats after the vote on Twitter. 34 of the 60 members who voted against the bill were Republicans. Bryant tweeted, “House Democrats voted for continuing to lose more than $80 millions to Ark. Louisiana and Tenn. $10 million-$20million of which could have been used to support education.” That could amount to $160 million, with federal matching funds. I hope they can explain it to their communities.” Bryant thanked Speaker Philip Gunn over the weekend and Lt. Governor. Tate Reeves was praised for his work on the proposal. Monday night’s shockwaves in the Capitol were caused by this move. The shocked looks shared by legislators were only seconds after the vote. Staff scrambled for information. Staff and legislators on the Senate floor buzzed when they saw the news from the other chamber. Everyone at the Capitol began to ask the question: “Why?” The House had already passed the bill by a wide margin in the special session that began on Thursday. The House also rejected attempts to send the bill back to the Senate for further negotiations on Monday. Gunn (Republican from Clinton) has been vocally opposed to the implementation of a state lottery for many years, but he promised not to block it on the House floor. Gunn, R-Clinton, voted against Monday’s bill and didn’t appear to exert any influence to persuade members of his Republican conference which has a three fifths supermajority to support the bill. Many Senate and House members stated publicly that the bill gave too much power the lottery corporation. Many lamented the negative impact of the lottery on the poor. Others claimed they didn’t have enough time to fully understand the bill. Jeff Smith, R-Columbus House Ways and Means Chairman, was asked about the vote against lottery. He said that he didn’t know why but is opposed to the lottery. It is clear that some people didn’t like the Mississippi Lottery Corporation. The bill was amended several times since its original draft, which Bryant’s staff wrote. Bryant’s original version would have exempted this lottery corporation from the state’s Public Records Act, Open Meetings Act, state procurement and bidding laws. The Legislature passed the final version that imposes all three transparency laws on the lottery corporation. Skeptics of original bill believed that the governor’s bill was too vague to permit online and video lottery games. These are similar machines to slot machines that could have been permitted statewide. Monday’s final version included more restrictive language, which clearly prohibited those games. Rep. Cheikh Taylor (D-Starkville) said he supports a lottery, but believes that its revenue should go to education. Other legislators, such as Kevin Horan (D-Grenada), expressed concern that the bill would make allowing video lottery terminals, a type of slot machines, at truck stops in the state more difficult. If the Legislature decides to address the issue, it will be easier. The bill was drafted and discussed mostly behind closed doors. This point of contention has been raised by several legislators since Thursday. A small group of senators and members of the House met privately on Monday to discuss details of the legislation. Speaker Gunn described it as “finding common ground” which was “perfectly acceptable, perfectly normal” according to Sen. Hob Bryan (D-Amory). “This bill is a slush money for Phil Bryant.” The opposition to the bill in both houses was made up of a bipartisan group who voted “no,” over moral or religious concerns. Many economic experts, including those who have been friends with Bryant and Gunn, said that the lottery won’t create the financial boom some believe it will. In a 2017 University Research Center study, state economists concluded that a lottery would reduce the amount of money spent in Mississippi. According to our assumptions, the state will lose 15 percent of instant ticket sales and nearly half of multi-state ticket sales due to leakages to other States. A Mississippi lottery must generate enough economic activity to offset these losses in order to be economically profitable. This is unlikely …” We remain skeptical about the bill’s prospects. Bryant could add the lottery proposal to the agenda of the special session if the House votes down the proposal on Tuesday. Bryant would likely sign the bill into law if the House votes to revive the proposal and passes it. Already Tuesday’s governor was expected to extend the special session to permit legislators to discuss how to divide up the funds that the state will receive from BP following the 2010 oil disaster. The state will receive $750 million from BP over several years. BP was responsible for the oil-spill. The Senate will be returning to the Capitol on Tuesday at 11 a.m., while the House will reassemble at 12:30 p.m. To support this work and continue vital work such as this story, you can make a recurring contribution today to celebrate our Spring Member Drive.