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Legislative committee to discuss killing the Texas Lottery

Jul 25, 2014, 11:23 am

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Texas Lottery

The Texas Legislature's discussions about eliminating the state lottery are moving forward.

House Speaker Joe Straus on Thursday announced his appointments to the Legislative Committee to Review the Texas Lottery and Texas Lottery Commission, a new panel charged with studying the ramifications of ending the lottery, along with examining charitable bingo and how its revenue is distributed.

The appointees include three Harris County lawmakers, one of whom is a vocal lottery critic.

Houston Democrat Garnet Coleman has accused the lottery commission of a cozy relationship with the game operator and criticized how most players are poor. He will be joined by Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston; Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land; Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake and co-chair John Kuempel, R-Seguin.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst will choose five senators for the committee, which is to report its findings and recommendations by Dec. 1.

The committee came out of last session's House Bill 2197, which by passing allowed the lottery to continue after an unexpectedly fierce debate in which the state House voted for elimination before reversing itself.


Discussions about killing the lottery arose after a review by the Sunset Advisory Commission, which evaluates state agencies every 10 years. The Legislature must approve a version of the sunset commission's recommendations for most agencies — including the lottery commission — to continue to exist.

The routine sunset measure unexpectedly ignited a fierce debate as Democrats and Republicans argued the lottery preys on poor people. The bill was initially defeated 81-65, leading state Rep. Linda Harper Brown to declare from the dais that "the lottery commission is gone." But concerns about how to replace the more than $2 billion budget hole that would create led to a new vote in which the lottery survived 92-53.

In a Thursday statement, Straus said that, "the House had a healthy and productive discussion about the Texas Lottery last year, and this committee will continue that discussion."

"I hope these Members will take an objective and thorough look at how the lottery and charitable bingo impact our state," he said.

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