House Barely Passes Bentley's Lottery Bill, Sidewalk Film Fest Kicks Off in Birmingham

Aug 26, 2016

Lyric and Alabama Theaters, Birmingham, Ala.
Credit Joe de Sciose

The Alabama House of Representatives approved Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed state lottery last night by an extremely tight margin.

Representatives voted 64-35 for the bill late last night, barely clearing the 63 votes required to clear the 105-seat House. The vote came after 10 hours of back-and-forth debate and two vote attempts.

Lottery supporters cheered in the House as newly-elected Speaker Mac McCutcheon announced the bill's eventual success.

Governor Bentley is seeking the first statewide vote on a lottery since 1999. The Republican governor proposed a lottery as a way to provide money to the state's cash-strapped Medicaid program and other state services. Alabama is one of six states without a state lottery.

The bill now returns to the Alabama Senate where lawmakers must decide whether to go along with House changes to the bill. The Senate passed their version of the bill last week without a single vote to spare.

This weekend, Birmingham is hosting its annual Sidewalk Film Festival. APR Student Reporter Katie Willem has more.

Over 250 different films will be shown this weekend in 10 different venues in the theater district. The festival features indie films created by filmmakers from around the world and in Alabama.

Josh Vasa is the festival director. He says the festival started with a group of twenty-year-olds in Birmingham who were fans of independent films coming together and starting a tradition.

“They said, ‘Why don’t we put together a projector and host a little screening with some indie films?’ And they did that in the first year, with a big success, and they essentially grew that idea into what it is now, eighteen years later, which is, we are proud to say, a nationally recognized film fest.”

Tickets for the weekend are still available on the Sidewalk Festival’s website. The festival runs through Sunday night.

Over 1000 water bottles are expected to be donated today in an effort to assist veterans.

The Regency Retirement Village of Tuscaloosa has been gathering the bottles for weeks and will be making the donation to the VA medical center.

Jeanette McConnell is the community consultant at the retirement center. She says it’s important “to give to those who gave.”

“We are going over to the VA medical center to donate the water, and there, they will be distributing it to veterans who are homeless who need to have that hydration in order to battle this really hot weather that we have all been experiencing.”

The donation will take place at 10 a.m. this morning at the VA Medical Center in Tuscaloosa near the sports atrium.