Bingo bill headed for House vote?

Published 2:33 am Monday, April 12, 2010

By By Kerry Whipple Bean

The bingo bill passed in the state Senate that is now under a “cloud of suspicion” could come before the House for a full vote on Wednesday.
If it does, state Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, plans to vote against it. Baker said he has “concerns” about the bill, which would put a referendum on the November ballot for Alabama voters to decide on a constitutional amendment to regulate and tax electronic bingo.
The House tourism committee held over the bill until next week. House Speaker Seth Hammett told The Associated Press last week that the bill could go before the full House for a vote on Wednesday.
Baker said the bill — touted as a “simple” version of an earlier bill on the issue — would simply return the power to determine regulation to the Legislature.
Baker said he does support giving Alabama residents the chance to vote yes or no on the legality of electronic bingo.
Baker said he is also concerned about the legislation because it does not allow voters to reject bingo in their own counties if the constitutional amendment was passed.
The House tourism committee on Thursday held over the legislation until Tuesday.
The Senate passed the bingo bill last week, and soon after FBI agents told the Senate and House leadership they were investigating allegations of corruption surrounding the legislation.
Bingo legislation is not the only unfinished business for the Legislature’s current session. There are four legislative days remaining, both houses have passed a $5.5 billion education budget, and the Senate will take up the General Fund budget on Tuesday.
Both budgets, Baker said, are slim because of the economic conditions in the state.
The House on Thursday unanimously passed a bill that would give voters the opportunity to decide whether to let the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program can borrow money from the Alabama Trust Fund.

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