Yesterday evening after spending over 4 hours discussing SB380 as amended by Senator Rodger Bedford (D), the AL Senate passed a constitutional amendment legalizing BINGO. Senator Bedford’s bill, SB380 originally came up in the senate earlier in the session but failed to receive the 21 votes needed to bring it up for discussion. With two senators changing their vote, Senators Jim Preuitt and Bobby Denton, passage was inevitable.
Discussion on the bill began just after 2:30. From 2:30 until 5:40 proponents of the bill stood at the mic discussing its merits in what seemed to be a stall or filibuster. At one point Senator Charles Bishop (R) asked the president of the Senate if it appeared to him that those in favor of the bill were filibustering themselves. The filibuster continued until around 5:20 when Senator Lowell Barron, chairman of the Rules Committee offered a cloture petition (petition to close debate). The petition stated that a vote must take place at 6:15. Those in favor of the bill continued to filibuster only allowing opponents less than 20 minutes to state their concerns or offer amendments.
In the short time the opponents had to speak, Senator Paul Sanford (R) rose to the mic extremely frustrated saying to the body, “Why is it that they (senators) stand up here and say “Let the people vote” but do not let the senators speak on the issue. This was not a debate today; this was a show for the media and the gallery. “
Following comments by only 4 republicans, Senator Bobby Denton (D) who voted with the republicans previously on this issue addressed the senate. Denton told the senate that he had been praying on this issue and speaking with pastors. Denton said, “Perception is a powerful moral virtue, almost as strong as love and hate. I oppose gambling and always have but we cannot operate government at any level by relying on perception. “In closing Denton told the body, “Please don’t vote yes or no on this issue because of the way I vote. Please don’t judge me for the way I will vote. “
Following Denton’s comments, the cloture petition passed the AL Senate and a vote was taken. The senate passed the BINGO bill with a vote of 21 to 13. Republican Senators Harri Anne Smith and Jimmy Holley voted for the bill. Democratic Senators Jim Preuitt and Bobby Denton, who originally voted against the bill, switched their vote.
This bill will now transmit to the House and be assigned to committee. Stay tuned for more updates on the BINGO legislation in the legislature.
Filed under: Legislature