ALCAP Alert

ALCAP Alert! 4/23/2019

State-sponsored lottery bill (SB220) passed out of committee today.

SB220 is expected to be debated on the Alabama Senate floor this Thursday, April 25, 2019. Call your state state senator and ask him/her to oppose this and all pro-gambling bills! Also, PRAY!

ALCAP Alert! 4/19/2019

What an exciting week it was in the Alabama Legislature! This past Wednesday, April 17, the House Health Committee gave a “favorable report” to a major pro-life bill. That means the bill, House Bill (HB) 314, sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins (R-Morgan County) now advances to the full House of Representatives for a vote sometime in the near future. We expect it to pass easily in the House and then we will turn our attention to getting it passed in the Senate and signed by the Governor. Please earnestly pray that God will work in the lives of state lawmakers to pass this important legislation!

ALCAP also spoke this week in a public hearing concerning HB350, also sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins (R-Morgan County), that would allow for the direct shipment of alcohol to consumers’s homes. Home delivery of almost everything imaginable is now available, but alcohol, a mind-altering and addictive drug, is unlike all other commodities. We cannot expect delivery companies to check IDs and assure that alcohol is not delivered to young people under the age of 21. The purchase of alcohol should not be “convenient,” but it should require a certain level of difficulty to purchase because it is so dangerous.

On the gambling front, a public hearing was called (at the request of ALCAP) on HB361. This bill will legalize Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) in Alabama. In spite of all the evidence that DFS is gambling [see www.StopPredatroyGambling.org], the sponsor of the bill, Representative Kyle South (R-Fayette) argued that it is a game of skill. ALCAP tried to convince the House State Government Committee members that because DFS is gambling, it requires a constitutional amendment, but they gave the bill a “favorable report,” advancing it to the full House of Representatives as a statute, requiring only the Governor’s signature if it passes both the House and the Senate. The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile), acknowledged that passage of the bill may result in a costly lawsuit.

ALCAP Alert! 4/12/2019

Due to a very hectic schedule and the rapid pace of the 2019 Legislative Session, I have not been able to send an alert during the last two weeks. It seems the Alabama Legislature is determined to push gambling and alcohol on the people of Alabama.

But, let me begin with one positive bit of news. Senate Bill (SB) 77, which would privatize all the Alcohol Beverage Control retail stores in the state, failed to pass out of a Senate committee this past Wednesday. ALCAP’s position and focus, as stated during the public hearing before the vote was taken, is that when states privatize their liquor sales, the consumption rate rises by 48%. More consumption results in more social costs related to alcohol, and for that reason, ALCAP continues to support controlling alcohol sales through the Alcohol Beverage Control Board (ABC Board), both wholesale and retail. We have been told that a comprehensive alcohol privatization bill that will privatize both the wholesale and retail liquor sales will be introduced soon in the House. SB77 would have only privatized the retail stores, not the wholesale operations.

Two weeks ago, ALCAP’s opposition to SB116, SB130 and SB220 was presented during a public hearing. SB116 is a constitutional amendment that would legalize a state-sponsored lottery, along with Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) in existing dog tracks and certain bingo halls throughout the state. These VLTs are actually slot machines, so this bill would really legalize casino gambling, not just a lottery. It would also require a “gaming/gambling” commission to be established. (More “big government” coming out of Montgomery!) SB130 simply stated how the revenue from gambling would be divided within the state budgets.

SB220 was a “competing” lottery bill that, if voted on by the people, would allow Alabama to sell lottery tickets associated with the intra-state “mega” lotteries. This bill would not require a gambling commission, but it would result in the Poarch Creek Indians opening full-fledged casinos in their facilities. The Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, passed in 1985, states that the Indians can demand a compact be signed with the state, allowing them to have any kind of gambling that is legal within the state. Since a lottery is Class III gambling, which includes casino gambling, the Indians could demand that they be allowed to operate full-fledged casinos should the people vote for a lottery amendment. “Bottom line” – a vote for a lottery will actually be a vote for casino gambling in Alabama!

One local bill, House Bill (HB) 422, is a local constitutional amendment that would allow Macon County to have the same kind of electronic bingo machines used at the Poarch Creek Indian casinos. These are the same machines that were ruled as “illegal slot machines” by the Alabama Supreme Court in the past, but which the Federal Government continues to allow on the Indian Reservations. We are studying how to best stop this bill.

Several legislators have told me that they promised their constituents they would vote to allow their people to vote on a lottery. We need for everyone to contact your legislators and tell them you “release” them from such a foolish commitment and you want them to oppose all pro-gambling bills.

ALCAP is also watching a Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) bill and a sports betting bill. HB361, legalizing DFS, will have a public hearing next Wednesday, April 17, at 3:00 PM in the House Government Committee. DFS is, in reality, online gambling. Pray that we will be able to stop this bill from advancing.

NOW, FOR THE BIGGEST NEWS! This coming Wednesday, April 17, at 10:30 AM, HB314 will have a public hearing followed by a vote by the House Health Committee. This bill will be historic! It is a pro-life bill that will outlaw abortions after implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterine wall. This will be the most restrictive abortion bill in the nation if it passes. The hope is that bill could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court and reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision! We already have a list of individuals who will speak in the public hearing and what we need now is for God’s people to pray! We will keep you updated as this bill makes its way through the legislature.

To summarize: 1) PRAY! 2) Contact your House member and state Senator and ask them to support the pro-life bill (HB314) and oppose all the gambling and alcohol expansion bills.

ALCAP Alert! 3/20/2019

After passing the gas tax during the Special Session, the Alabama Legislators resumed the 2019 Regular Session on Tuesday, March 19. As expected, Sen. Jim McClendon (R-St. Clair County) introduced Senate Bill 116 (SB116) that would legalize a state-sponsored lottery in Alabama. The general feeling is that a lottery bill will pass the Legislature and be placed on the ballot as a constitutional amendment for the people of Alabama to decide.

Legislators often tell me they are opposed to gambling, but they “just want to give the people a chance to vote.” While I was not as opposed to the gas tax as many of my friends, it is interesting to me that many of these same legislators did not think it was necessary for the people to vote on the gas tax. The fact is, we did vote when we elected these legislators to come to Montgomery and make decisions based on information that the general public either does not have the time or the interest in studying.

Let me encourage you to take two actions:

1) Contact your State Senator and House Member and ask him or her to oppose ALL pro-gambling bills.

2) Study the issue of gambling yourself, so you can respond to people in your circle of influence.

You can find information about gambling at www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.

You can also order from Amazon, watch and show the video documentary, “Out of Luck.” Be sure and order the “Education Edition,” which drops the sound on the bad words that are scattered throughout the video. Obviously, this video was produced by non-Christian people who argue against state-sponsored lotteries on the basis of economics rather than moral reasons. While there are plenty of moral reasons to oppose state-sponsored gambling, economically, all state-sponsored or state-sanctioned gambling is a failed policy that targets the poorest citizens of the state.

Other bills we are monitoring include House Bill 6 (HB6) that limits distracted driving (especially, cell phone use while driving), sponsored by Rep. Allen Farley (R-Jefferson County), and several local Sunday alcohol sales and entertainment district bills.

Pray that legislators will do what is best for the citizens of our state.

Senate Resolution, SR109

Senate Resolution, SR109, passed by the Alabama Senate during the 2018 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature, was an important pro-life resolution. Newspapers and the mainstream media in our state seem to be ignoring this resolution, but ALCAP wants its supporters to know what the resolution states. Please share this resolution with others.

Click here for a printable copy of SR109

CONDEMNING THE VOTE AGAINST THE PAIN-CAPABLE UNBORN CHILD PROTECTION ACT

WHEREAS, The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36) which the United States Senate recently voted upon would have provided nationwide protection from abortion for unborn children who are capable of feeling pain, beginning at 20 weeks fetal age; and

WHEREAS, only three months ago, the junior Senator from Alabama, when attempting to persuade conservative and moderate voters in Alabama to vote for him stated “the law for decades has been that late-term procedures are generally restricted except in the case of medical necessity. That’s what I support”; and

WHEREAS, it was later revealed that pro-abortion individuals and political groups from out-of-state funneled enormous amounts of financial and other support into Alabama to influence the candidate’s campaign; and

WHEREAS, even though The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would have passed because a majority of Senators supported it, and President Trump said he would sign it, pro-abortion forces in the Senate used procedural tactics to stop the vote, with the junior senator from Alabama voting to kill this important bill; and

WHEREAS, some Democratic Senators in the Senate refused to take the extreme position to kill such a common-sense bill, and supported the passage of H.R. 36; and

WHEREAS, The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was fashioned from several states’ bills, which passed by overwhelming margins, including a similar bill in Alabama; and

WHEREAS, the abortions performed in the second half of pregnancy usually involve painfully dismembering babies, while also posing serious dangers to his or her mother; and

WHEREAS, the junior senator from Alabama is from one of the strongest pro-life states, yet disregarded the clear wishes of the people of Alabama, and instead joined his vote with the most extreme pro-abortion Senators to allow this horrific practice; and

WHEREAS, a vote to allow the brutal killing of an unborn child at this stage is unmistakably revulsive to the values of a so-called civilized and compassionate society, is obviously violent to children, many of whom can survive outside the womb, and devalues the value of every life in America; and

WHEREAS, the United States is one of only seven countries that allows abortions beyond 20 weeks; the other six nations include: North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, and the Netherlands; and

WHEREAS, opinion polls consistently show that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose late-term abortions including a majority of those who self-identify as pro-choice; now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, That the junior senator from Alabama’s vote to block protection of countless thousands of lives from a terribly painful death is unacceptable and this body strongly disapproves his departure from the values of this state and his vote on this important issue.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the members of this body who are representative of the overwhelming majority of the people of Alabama, call on our recently elected United States Senator to cast votes in the future to protect innocent human life from conception until natural death.

Legislative Update – Week 10

I did not send out an update last week because not much happened in the legislature related to ALCAP. However, this week was very busy! On Tuesday, SB325 (sponsored by Sen. Paul Sanford) was brought to the Senate floor for a vote. SB325 would legalize Daily Fantasy Sports (a.k.a., “online gambling”) in Alabama. ALCAP contends that, because this is Class III gambling, it requires a constitutional amendment voted on by the people of Alabama. Former Attorney General Luther Strange ruled two years ago that Daily Fantasy Sports is illegal in our state.

Sen. Sanford was not in attendance, so Sen. Tom Whatley carried the bill. Until the General Fund Budget and the Education Trust Fund Budget are passed, a bill cannot be brought to the floor of the House or Senate without what is called a “Budget Isolation Resolution” (or BIR). The BIR requires that three fifths of the body vote in favor of bringing a bill up before it can be debated and a vote taken on the bill. When the BIR vote for SB325 was taken, only 11 senators voted for the BIR and 12 voted against, with the others either abstaining or not on the floor to vote. That means that SB325 could not be debated and a vote taken! In order for the bill to come back for a vote, it must be placed back on the Special Order Calendar and the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee (which places bills on the Special Order Calendar) assured me that this would probably not happen. It was obvious from the BIR vote that the senators are not interested in passing this unconstitutional piece of legislation.

On Thursday of this week, after voting in the Senate had been delayed twice, HB76 (sponsored by Rep. Pebblin Warren) was finally passed by the Senate without any amendments. ALCAP’s legal advisor, Eric Johnston, and Robin Mears, executive director of the Alabama Christian Educators Association, worked many hours over a two-year period with Rep. Warren and other organizations to help craft this bill in such a way that the religious liberty of churches was protected while also protecting children in Alabama. ALCAP applauds their efforts. The bill now goes to the Governor’s office for her signature. Click here for the HB76 memorandum from Eric Johnston just after HB76 passed the House, but before it went to the Senate.

Both Senate and House leadership seem eager to end the 2018 Legislative Session a few days early so that members can get home to campaign for the June primaries. Every week the rumors change, but the latest rumor is that the two budgets will be completed and sent to the Governor for her signature some time next week. The Legislature will (if the rumors are correct) meet Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week, and then Tuesday and Thursday of the following week and adjourn “sine die” (Latin for “adjourn with no plans to return” for this session) on March 29. As a preacher, for years people have told me that a short sermon is always a good sermon. I have told legislators that a short session is always a good session and I hope they do adjourn sine die soon!

Legislative Update – Week 8

On Wednesday of this week (February 28, 2018) ALCAP was the only gambling opponent speaking in two separate public hearings in the Senate Tourism & Marketing Committee, chaired by Sen. Del Marsh. The first pro-gambling bill presented was SB325, sponsored by Sen. Paul Sanford of Huntsville. This bill would legalize Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) in Alabama, opening the door for Class III (full-fledged, casino-style) gambling in the state. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act states that if Class III gambling is ever legalized in a state (and DFS would likely be considered Class III gambling) then the state must “in good faith” sign a compact with the Indian Tribes within that state. So, if DFS is legalized in Alabama, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Commission (a federal agency) could require the state of Alabama to sign a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians giving them the ability to expand their locations and types of gambling. Also, others would likely demand equal treatment in non-tribal casinos and the state could see its anti-gambling laws “gutted.” Besides putting a virtual casino in the hands of anyone with a smart phone (including children and teens), the illegal “bingocinos” that keep trying to reopen could also install “Daily Fantasy Sports machines” (a.k.a. “slot machines”) and argue that they are simply playing daily fantasy sports, thus giving new life to these illegal gambling enterprises.

ALCAP argued in the public hearing on SB325 that, because DFS is Class III gambling, it should require a vote of the people as a constitutional amendment. If DFS is legalized by a simple statute, that in itself could be unconstitutional. Most of the states that have legalized DFS have placed the oversight under the authority of their state “gaming” (gambling) commissions and put the same restrictions on DFS that they put on all forms of gambling, thus supporting ALCAP’s argument that DFS is indeed Class III gambling. Since Alabama does not have a “gaming” commission, SB325 would place oversight of DFS under the authority of the Attorney General.

For more information on Daily Fantasy Sports and why we believe it is gambling, click here.

To see a short segment from a 2016 PBS Frontline interview on DFS, click here, or to see the entire Frontline program on the subject of Daily Fantasy Sports, click here.

In addition to SB325, there was a public hearing in the Senate Tourism & Marketing Committee on SB326, also sponsored by Sen. Paul Sanford. This bill would call for a constitutional amendment that, if passed by the people of Alabama, would allow Alabama citizens to participate in the interstate, “mega” and “Powerball” lotteries now taking place in other states. This bill barely passed out of the committee by a 3-2 vote, and that only came after Sen. Billy Beasley of Clayton, AL changed his vote from “no” to “yes.” ALCAP was, again, the only voice in opposition to the bill during the public hearing. There were no proponents in the public hearing, but debate among the senators on the committee included comments that supported the bill.

For more information on state-sponsored lotteries and the negative impact of gambling in general, visit www.StopPredatoryGambling.org.

Please contact your state senator TODAY and encourage him/her to oppose both SB325 and SB326 should either or both of these bills come to the floor of the Senate for a vote!!! Click on the links above in order to become knowledgeable about DFS and state-sponsored lotteries, be courteous, but be firm when you call. If you are able, a handwritten letter will be even more impactful than a phone call or email, but use whatever method you can to contact your state senator about both of these bills.

Also, when talking with candidates for local and state offices, always ask them to tell you their position on gambling. If they say, “I just want to let the people vote,” you answer, “That’s why we are electing you to represent us – so we don’t have to vote on everything! Take a stand and do what is best for the citizens of Alabama.”

Continue to keep ALCAP in your prayers and please consider putting ALCAP in your church budget. We need your support to continue this ministry.

Legislative Update – Week 7

Week #7 has been a busy week in the Legislature for ALCAP. Here is a list of the some of the activities surrounding the bills ALCAP is monitoring:

HB76 (the “Daycare Licensing Bill”) was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, having already passed the House, should be put on the Senate calendar for debate within the next week or two. ALCAP supports this bill as it has been amended and agreed upon by most concerned parties.

HB272 (sponsored by Democrat Representative Patricia Todd), which lowers the penalties on possession of marijuana failed to pass out of the House Judiciary Committee, but the companion bill, SB251 (sponsored by Republican Senator Dick Brewbaker) did pass out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 6-4 vote and may now go to the full Senate for debate. ALCAP opposes both these bills. To lower the penalties for possession of marijuana sends the wrong signal at a time in our culture when drug use continues to be an increasing problem among our nation’s youth. Given that the House Judiciary Committee failed to give their version of the bill a favorable report, it is very likely that the Senate will not waste time debating and voting on the Senate version of the bill, but we will continue to monitor SB251 and let you know if it begins to gain traction.

HB407 (sponsored by Republican Representative Reed Ingram), which would allow local governing bodies to regulate the sale of Sunday alcohol sales, including the start times, without a vote of the people was carried over in the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee after concerns were raised by ALCAP. During a public hearing ALCAP pointed out that some counties and municipalities had Sunday alcohol sales starting at noon as a result of a vote of the people. To change the start time for selling alcohol in those areas where the people voted should require a vote of the people again and not be decided by local officials. We anticipate that the bill will come back to the committee with an amendment that requires a vote of the people in those situations where the people voted originally for Sunday alcohol sales.

On Tuesday of this week, Republican Senator Paul Sanford introduced two pro-gambling bills: SB325, which would legalize Daily Fantasy Sports (online gambling that would put a casino in the hands of every person with a smart phone, including young people), and SB326, which would legalize a state-sponsored lottery. These bills will be on the agenda in the Senate Tourism & Marketing Committee next Wednesday (February 28) and ALCAP has requested a public hearing on each. Please contact your State Senator and ask him/her to oppose SB325 and SB326, especially if your senator serves on the Senate Tourism & Marketing Committee. The members of that committee include: Sen. Del Marsh (Chairman); Sen. Bobby Singleton (Vice-Chairman); Sen. Greg Albritton; Sen. Billy Beasley; Sen. Tim Melson; Sen. Trip Pittman; Sen. Paul Sanford (sponsor of the bill); and Sen. Roger Smitherman.

Continue to pray for the Alabama Legislators and their families. Also, please pray for ALCAP as your missionaries to the Alabama State House.

Legislative Update – Week 6

There is not much to report from the Alabama Legislature during week #6 of the session. The Education Trust Fund Budget was passed by the House and now goes to the Senate, so that took a lot of the time.

One local bill (HB267), sponsored by Rep. James Buskey, allows the Mobile County Commission and/or city councils of local municipalities within Mobile County to change the start time for Sunday alcohol sales from noon to 10:00 a.m. passed the House and was presented to the local delegation of State Senators from Mobile County in a meeting on Thursday.

I attended the meeting and pointed out to the Representatives and Senators in attendance that this bill undoes what the Legislature voted to do last year. The “Brunch Bill” (as it was called) was passed last year and is currently the law in Alabama. This bill allows counties and municipalities to change the start time for Sunday alcohol sales by action of their local commissions and/or councils.

However, an amendment was added last year that stated that if the county or municipality passed Sunday alcohol sales by a referendum or as a constitutional amendment (both requiring a vote of the people), then it would take a vote of the people to change the start time.

With HB267, Mobile County is attempting to legalize an earlier start time for Sunday alcohol sales WITHOUT A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE! We encourage Mobile County residents to contact their State Senator and House Member and “pitch a fit” about this “sneaky” attempt to override the vote of the citizens of Mobile County. Also, those living in other areas of the state should beware. If this local bill passes, it will set a precedent for other counties and municipalities to follow in the future.

HB76, the Daycare Licensing Bill, will be in a Senate committee this Wednesday, February 21. We will let you know in our next update what happens in that committee meeting.