The Alabama State Senate voted Tuesday by 19 to 13 to defeat Del Marsh’s Lottery and Gambling bill. The bill since it was a Constitutional Amendment required a 60% majority – 21 votes to pass. The bill fell two votes short on this attempt. Marsh’s bill included a statewide lottery and five casinos. The five were the Mobile Greyhound Track, Victoryland in Macon County, Birmingham Racecourse and Greenetrack; as well as a new site in northeast Alabama near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Marsh amended his bill to add a casino near Dothan in Houston County and Senator Bobby Singleton amended the bill on the floor to add and Whitehall Enterprises in Lowndes County. Two Black State Senators were out for sickness at yesterday’s session, Senator Malika Sanders Fortier of Selma and Senator Priscilla Dunn of Bessemer, who may have voted for the bill, especially after it was amended to include the Whitehall facility, which is in Lowndes County, in Fortier’s district. These two additional votes would have given the proposal the necessary 60% majority vote for passage. Another looming challenge facing gaming in Greene County comes from legal actions against “electronic bingo” by Steve Marshall, Alabama Attorney General, who feels that bingo machines are equivalent to illegal slot machines. The Attorney General’s efforts are backed by decisions of the Alabama Supreme Court which are unfavorable to electronic means of playing bingo. Marsh’s bill would have legalized gambling at only certain recognized places in the state and invalidated Marshall’s efforts.
Walt Maddox, Dr. Will Boyd, Joe Siegelman, Heather Milam, Bob Vance
Senator Hank Sanders receives plaque for lifetime service to ANSC. L to R: Shelly Fearson, Sen. Vivian Figures, Robert Avery, Dr. Roberta Watts, Rev. Robert Turner, Hank Sanders, John Zippert and Dr. Carol P. Zippert.
Saturday’s 32nd. Annual Fall Endorsement Convention in Montgomery, Alabama, the Alabama New South Alliance (ANSA) the political sister organization to the Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) endorsed the Democratic candidates running for statewide office. The members of the ANSA heard from the candidates and were able to ask questions before the endorsements were made. ANSA endorsed Walt Maddox, current Mayor of Tuscaloosa for Governor. Maddox said, “At the first hour of the first day I am in office, I will extend Medicaid coverage to 300,000 working people in this state who need insurance coverage. This will help these people to gain needed health care but it will also expand our economy and assist rural hospitals to remain in operation. Maddox said he would work for an “Education Lottery to provide revenues for education, scholarships for college and post-secondary education, more pre-k slots and general improvement in the state’s economy. ” Maddox also supported criminal justice reforms including review of sentences on death row leading to commutations for those deserving that consideration. Maddox said my cabinet and appointments would reflect the population and gender make-up of the state When asked why Kay Ivey refused to debate him, Maddox said, “Well, I guess if you have served in state government for more than thirty years, the last eight years in the top positions, without making much progress on Alabama’s problems, like she has, I guess you also would be reluctant to debate.” ANSA endorsed Rev. Will Boyd of Florence for Lieutenant Governor. Boyd who is African-American says, “ I support Medicaid expansion and will help Maddox get his programs through the Alabama Legislature. The Lt. Governor appoints 400 people to 167 different boards and positions. I will be fair and make sure Black people are included in these positions and other jobs that I am involved in creating.” ANSA endorsed Joseph Siegelman for Attorney General. Siegelman said his opponent, Steve Marshall, “ was trying to prosecute people in Black Belt counties for voter fraud while at the same time allowing people in white counties, who did the same things, to not face investigation or prosecution. ANSA also endorsed Robert Vance for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and Donna Smalley for Alabama Supreme Court, Place 4. Also endorsed were Heather Milan for Secretary of State and Cara McClure (Place 1) and Kari Powell for Place 2 on the Alabama Public Service Commission, which oversees utility rates and procedures in the state. Part of the meeting, were a series of presentations on how best to register, educate and mobilize voters including the importance of voter turnout in the Black Belt areas and inner cities. The importance of millennial and new voters was also stressed including helping the previously incarcerated to regain their voting rights. Former Governor Don Siegelman was the luncheon speaker and he discussed his unfair prosecution and time in Federal penitentiary for trying to serve people in Alabama. As part of the luncheon, Senator Hank Sanders, a founder of ANSC, was honored for a lifetime of service and achievement to ANSC, the Alabama Legislature, from which he is retiring at the end of the year, and to the people of the state.