Lotteries cropping up in other states

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 23, 2003

Lieutenant Governor Lucy Baxley re-appointed me at the beginning of this year as the Alabama Senate Delegate to the Southern Legislative Conference.

This is a post which I have been honored to hold for the past 14 years.

It is the mission of the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) to foster and encourage cooperation among its 16 member states.

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The Executive Committee, which is the governing body of SLC, consists of one senator and one representative from each member state.

It has been my privilege to be the Alabama Senate member on this governing body for the past several years, and I take my responsibility to represent our state within this important conference very seriously.

SLC holds one annual meeting each year and two government issues programs, one for federal issues and one for state concerns.

The annual meeting is moved about each year so each of the sixteen member states can be a host, and the federal meeting is always in Washington, D.C.

The state conference is likewise moved about among the several states.

This gives you a little background on a part of the legislative process which, in my opinion, is most important to keeping good relations between the legislative bodies across the southeast.

The 57th annual meeting of SLC was held last week in Forth Worth, Texas.

This meeting brought together more than 1,200 persons, including delegates, legislative staff, and guests from across the south.

The annual meeting is divided into seven standing committees which conduct substantive sessions on issues of importance to the several member states.

My primary assignment is the Executive Committee, which is the governing body, but I am also of the Fiscal Affairs and Government Operations Committee.

This year’s committee sessions included presentations and panel discussions on a number of topical issues by outstanding, nationally renowned speakers.

The business session featured a presentation by Rebecca Paul, president and CEO of the Georgia Lottery Corporation.

She spoke on the subject of &uot;Georgia’s Hope Scholarship Program.&uot;

As we all know, these are fiscally dire times for all states and it is causing many to look to gaming to enhance their revenue flows.

The Georgia Scholarship program has been successful but it has also had its downside.

There is definitely such a thing as &uot;gambling addiction.&uot;

Ms. Paul explained that she felt like the lottery was the least form of probable addiction but she also explained that there is definitely some addiction involved with even a lottery.

Since Alabama voted down a lottery four years ago, the state of Tennessee has passed a lottery and it is on the ballot to be voted on in two other states.

Apparently there are many who think it is a simple solution to revenue concerns, and I feel no doubt that it will be promoted as a solution in Alabama should the Riley tax program fail at the ballot box on September 9.

Other highlights of the SLC Annual Meeting included guest commentary by the noted television commentators/political analysts Tucker Carlson and Mark Shields.

Mr. Shields appears as the chair of the Capital Gang on CNN and Mr. Carlson is a conservative commentator who is on the FOX Network.

Their somewhat testy exchange was most interesting and enlightening.

Despite spending most of the time in meetings, there was some opportunity for enjoying the unique city of Fort Worth.

It is noted for being an historic site where thousands upon thousands of cattle were driven from eastern parts on their way westward in the mid-eighteen hundreds.

The city has capitalized on this history and tried to restore several buildings, trails and artifacts relating to the great cattle drives.

Texas is also known for its good bar-b-que, and we indulged in some of this.

One thing that caught my eye was that when you ask for a bar-b-que sandwich, you get a beef bar-b-que sandwich unless you specify pork.

That is just the opposite, as I have observed it, in our state.

In any event, both pork and beef were exceptionally good.

Until next time, remember &uot;I’ll go with you or I’ll go for you&uot; to help you solve any problem related to state government.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing to P O Box 225, Luverne, Alabama 36049.