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Alabama House Showdown Looms on Taxation, Gambling

16 December 2001

MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Dec. 16, 2001 – As reported by the Mobile Register: ``House members braced for a fight today over corporate taxation and gambling, after bills on those subjects were pushed through committee Thursday.

"It's going to be very heated," predicted Rep. Todd Greeson, R-Ider, an opponent of both measures.

``A three-hour House education budget committee meeting produced a number of testy moments, and at points Chairman Richard Lindsey, D-Centre, powered past Republican arguments against the tax bills.

``Eight bills passed, with the greatest controversy centering on measures to increase taxes on businesses' net worth and to tax video gambling machines. In Alabama, it's illegal for such machines to reward players with cash jackpots.

``The House bills are part of a package released Wednesday by legislative leaders to make up a projected $160 million shortfall in this year's school budget.

``…The gambling tax bill squeaked by 8-7. Its sponsor, Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, defended the bill, saying it would tax only machines that already exist and wouldn't undermine ongoing challenges to the legality of the games.

``But the bill also would allow machines at the state's four greyhound racing tracks to pay out in cash.

``Gambling opponents said that's a bad move for the state. They also said it could interfere with the court fight over the machines, plus an effort to keep the Poarch Band of Creek Indians from setting up full-fledged casinos…"

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