JACKSON – Legislation to enact a state lottery died Tuesday when none of the proposals were taken up in committee.
Senate Finance Chairman Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, said he opted not to bring up the proposal in his committee because of the opposition in the House of Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton.
He questioned the need “to put members of the Senate through that torturous vote” believing it was not going to pass the House “given the speaker’s opposition.”
Gunn said of the Senate’s decision, “They handle legislation as they see fit. I can’t speak for them.”
Gunn has been a vocal opponent of the lottery, but before the session began, he left open the possibility of the House taking up a lottery proposal if it passed the Senate first.
Gunn spokeswoman Megan Annison said before the session began, “The speaker does not support the lottery. He will not vote for the lottery and does not support a lottery bill originating in the House. We’ll see how the session develops. If the Senate introduces a bill, we will address the issue then.”
The lottery proposals died Tuesday because it was the deadline day for general bills to pass out of committee in at least one chamber. While the lottery bills died, it is not clear whether there is a bill alive this session that could be amended to enact a lottery.
Two years ago, two bills were amended on the floor of House to enact a lottery. But the lottery amendments were removed from the bills later in the process.
This session, there appeared to be momentum for lottery legislation. Multiple lottery bills were filed. There was a proposal to enact a lottery with the revenue directed toward education and another with the revenue reserved for transportation needs.
Sen. Philip Moran, R-Kiln, said he had a signed commitment from 40 of the 52 members of the Senate saying they would vote to enact a lottery.
Before the session, Gunn formed a task force to study the issue.
The task force, which held its final meeting in October, did not make a recommendation on whether the state should adopt a lottery, but provided statistics and information from other lottery states – particularly those contiguous to Mississippi. Only six states, including Mississippi, do not have a lottery.
The committee was told, based on a study by state economist Darrin Webb, that the lottery eventually could generate as much as $92 million annually in revenue, but could negatively impact other areas of the state economy such as sales tax collections. But overall, the lottery would be a net gain in revenue for the cash-strapped state coffers.