Two Common Bills That Never Get Passed

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By Ashley Thompson

The legislative session starts tomorrow and two hot topics are expected to make their way to the State House...again -- A bill to start a lottery and one to drop the state sales tax on groceries.

Representative John Knight says, for 10 years, he's been working to remove the grocery sales tax in Alabama.

"Those are people that go to work each and every day and here in Montgomery, pay ten cents sales tax on food when you have farm products that are tax exempt, when you have big companies that come in here that are tax exempt. It's unfair."

Those against lifting the tax question how the state will make up the lost funds. Kimble Forrister, from Arise Alabama, a group that works to represent low-income families says he believes the solution is to tax the very wealthy.

"I think most legislators would love to lower the grocery tax, the question is are they willing to raise taxes on the high income people," he says.

Though Knight says if lawmakers want something passed, they will find a way to do it.

"We passed all kinds of exemptions last year," he says. "Nobody worried about where the money was coming from. But everytime I come with the sales tax on grocery, that becomes the issue."

But could the grocery tax be lifted this year? House Speaker Mike Hubbard says it's unlikely.

"The question is how do you replace the 500 million dollars in the education trust fund," Hubbard explains. "I believe you're going to see us concentrate on tax relief for small businesses in particular and advise them to create jobs and expand."

House Minority Leader Craig Ford is spearheading an effort to bring a state lottery to Alabama, saying it could bring upwards of 250 million to the state. Some tell us they support the idea.

"My thing is, even with the lottery if they say no gambling or whatever, people still do gamble," says Montgomery resident Tawanda Hill. "Even when you take it out of the state, you're supporting other states, where if they bring it to Alabama, you'd be supporting Alabama."

But Hubbard says a state lottery bill won't pass.

"I think the chances are very slim. The people of Alabama have already spoken once on a lottery and it was loud and clear."

Alabama is one of four states that fully tax groceries and one of six states without a lottery.

 

They've been debated for years but what's the possibility of these bills becoming law?



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