House Committee Holds Hearing on Lottery Bill, Federal Judge Blocks Bathroom Directive

Aug 23, 2016

A legislative committee will hold a public hearing later today on a lottery bill that narrowly passed the state Senate last week.

The House of Representatives Economic Development and Tourism Committee will hold a hearing this afternoon on the proposal to amend the state’s constitution to establish a state lottery. Senators approved the bill Friday on a 21 to 12 vote.

Bill sponsor Senator Jim McClendon says he hopes the committee will approve the bill quickly. Lawmakers and Governor Robert Bentley will have to give final approval to the legislation by tomorrow in order to put a lottery referendum on the ballot for the November 8 general election. House members will need 63 votes to approve the bill. A majority of Alabama voters will also need to approve the measure in a referendum.

Alabama is currently one of only six states without a lottery.

A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked an Obama administration directive on bathroom rights for transgender students in U.S. public schools. APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the details.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth issued the preliminary injunction on Sunday.

Alabama and 12 other states asked O'Connor to halt the directive after the federal government told U.S. public schools in May that transgender students must be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity.

The announcement came days after the U.S. Justice Department sued North Carolina over a state law that requires people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the gender on their birth certificates. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch had likened that law to policies of racial segregation.

Republicans have argued such laws are common sense privacy safeguards.

Alabama is looking to educate over 14,000 four-year-olds in over 800 schools this year.

That total is only one out of four children within the state. Alabama is giving out $16 million to the education program this year. The program is called First Class Pre-K.

Allison Muhlendorf is the Executive Director of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance. She says the state’s Pre-K program has been receiving high marks for quality.

“The program provides grants to create new, high-quality Pre-K programs and also provides grants to improve the quality of existing preschool classrooms throughout the state. And for ten years in a row, Alabama’s First Class pre-k program has actually been ranked number one in the country for its quality.”

The program is looking to increase funding in years to come in order to reach more of the state’s kids, as preschool programs show increased test scores and learning capabilities for those who were involved.