- Associated Press - Thursday, April 21, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - As Alabama’s 2016 legislative session quickly nears its end, a state senator is making a final push for a lottery with a proposed constitutional amendment.

The Senate Tourism and Marketing Committee on Thursday voted for Republican Sen. Jim McClendon’s bare-bones amendment, which would allow Alabamians to vote on the issue in November.

“The hard financial fact of the matter, for the state of Alabama, is our general fund has serious problems right now,” McClendon said. “Our Medicaid program is on the brink of disaster. We don’t have enough troopers out there. The responsibility of the legislature is to allocate funds, whether it’s from tax dollars or lottery dollars.”

The proposed amendment provides few details, such as where lottery funds would go, but McClendon said he wanted to be cautious to not “hamstring” future legislatures.

“I’m concerned about where the funds are going to go, what’s going to be the process, the distribution of it,” said Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, who voted against the bill in committee.

Senators Bobby Singleton and Paul Sanford both said they supported moving the bill out of committee but expected additions to the measure before they would support it in a Senate floor vote.

McClendon said he plans to work with colleagues over the next few days to flesh out details. There are five meeting days left in the session.

“There’s time enough to do this,” McClendon said.

Alabama is one of five U.S. states without a lottery. Alabamians in 1999 voted down a lottery proposed by then-Gov. Don Siegelman.

Another lottery bill brought this session, a bid to have Alabama join multistate lottery games such as Powerball, has stalled in committee.

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