Local News

Time Running Out To Pass State Lottery Bill

Posted August 23, 2005

— Legislators have returned to Raleigh after a week off to tackle dozens of bills -- including a state lottery bill -- that stand between them and possible adjournment for the year.

The House put 72 bills on its calendar, including measures to curb identity theft, leverage hundreds of millions of dollars for road-building and ease restrictions on hiring teachers from other states.

Also at issue is a proposed state lottery. The Senate will reconvene floor work Tuesday morning. It left town Aug. 13 at least one vote short of passing a lottery bill that would devote its net profits to education.

At least five Democratic senators -- Ellie Kinnaird, Charlie Albertson, Janet Cowell, Dan Clodfelter and Martin Nesbitt -- say they will not vote for a lottery bill. Now, some Republicans are targets of radio advertisements that the North Carolina Association of Educators hopes will make the difference and pass the lottery bill.

Being targeted by the association is Sen. Richard Stevens, R- Wake County, and two other Republicans. The NCAE hopes at least one will vote yes for a lottery to help North Carolina schools.

"We just felt like there might be some hope that we might be able to get some Republicans, as well as some Democrats, who may be opposed to change their mind and that's what it's all about," said NCAE President Eddie Davis.

Like other lottery opponents, Stevens says he wants the best for education.

"I'm absolutely committed to education," he said. "It's the most important thing we do in state government. This is just not the way to fund it."

Stevens says the advertisements prompted an onslaught of phone calls to his office, but he says most support his opposition. He does not think that will change.

"At this point, I'm very firmly committed to being in opposition," he said.

The Legislature also plans to meet in a joint session Tuesday to choose a winner in the unresolved election for superintendent of public instruction.

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