What is Going on with the Alabama State Senate Tourism Committee?

John Sharp

A public hearing before the Alabama State Senate Tourism Committee was never listed on a meeting agenda , nor was a bill pre-adverised for a possible vote.

But a hearing still took place on Wednesday, creating confusion among lawmakers perplexed that no specific legislation had been presented to them for consideration on the high-profile issue of gambling.

“This is not good government when you bring a bill 140 pages long and no one has seen it and expect us to vote on it,” state Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre, said, referring to substitute legislation senators are considering to the Alabama House’s gambling bill that was approved on Feb. 15.
“Regardless of legal nuances, we should step back and talk about what is right,” said David Cuillier, director of the Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Project at the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.
“Clearly, it’s important the public be apprised of the important issues before they are discussed, so people have a chance to participate and observe,” he said. “If we don’t have that, we don’t have much of a democracy.”

Jones, critical during the meeting of how the gambling bill was being handled, told AL.com late last week that he is confident in the process going forward.

“The public has been very engaged and involved long before this bill even came up to the Senate, and I believe that constituent involvement is critical to the process,” Jones said. “And at the end of the day, the public will have a final say at the ballot box should this bill make it over the finish line.
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