Bill to abolish lottery | Arkansas Blog

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bill to abolish lottery

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 2:40 PM

The interim report of the Arkansas Legislative Digest has a nice little scoop today.

Sen. Sue Madison of Fayetteville has drawn up legislation to effectively abolish the state lottery. Lotteries would still be constitutionally possible, but she'd repeal the enabling legislation.

Realistically, it's hard to believe the legislature will step back from something overwhelmingly approved by voters, particularly since Madison isn't a legislative power broker. But the controversy over lottery pay and other issues has taken some of the shine off the idea, recent polling indicates

Madison insists it's more the public policy questions than the cronyism and fat pay that move her, though she was a co-sponsor of the lottery legislation. I do think it's true, with scratch-off tickets and Powerball perhaps less than 60 days away, that a few people of conscience have been giving more thought to who is about to begin paying for college scholarships in Arkansas. Poor people not going to college, is, disproportionately, who.



Senator Sue Madison (D-Fayetteville) has filed a draft bill with the Legislative Council that would repeal law authorizing a state lottery. The bill, drafted for the 2010 Fiscal Session, would also immediately abolish the Scholarship Lottery Commission and transfer funds appropriated for operation of the lottery to the Department of Higher Education to fund scholarships.

Passed during the 2009 regular legislative session as the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Act (Act 606) following approval by the state's voters of a constitutional amendment allowing lawmakers to set up a state lottery, the legislation took a while to get through the process as sponsors hammered out details of the 117-page bill. However, final versions of both the House (HB 1002) and the companion Senate version (SB 26) were approved without a nay vote in final roll calls.

Sen. Madison tells us she voted against the constitutional amendment at the 2008 general election and now regrets voting for the bills and, in fact, signing on as a co-sponsor of the Senate bill. She said that although controversial, and in some instances, unpopular actions of the new Arkansas Lottery Commission and its newly-hired lottery director were a part of it, her main objection is that the Legislature spent its time creating the structure of the lottery rather than considering the merits of the lottery as public policy.

The measure was filed as ISP 182 and will likely be on the Legislative Council's agenda for adoption at its August 21 meeting.

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