Big news coming out of the Texas House this afternoon. Lawmakers there were considering HB 2197, which would tweak the structure of the Texas Lottery Commission.
More importantly, the bill would allow the commission to continue to exist beyond September 1 of this year. The TLC, like most state agencies, has to be reauthorized by the legislature from time to time as part of the sunset process.
As you can see above, the House shot it down. Which means no more scratch-offs. No more eight-figure payouts. No more lottery. At least that's how Representative Gene Wu, a Houston Democrat, and politicos on Twitter take it.
— Gene Wu (@GeneforTexas) April 23, 2013
And the Texas Tribune's Ross Ramsey:
S. Turner totals cut @ $2.2 billion (1.1B x 2 yrs). Harper-Brown, from the chair, says budget negotiations will decide where to cut. #txlege
— Ross Ramsey (@rossramsey) April 23, 2013
When you take out the amount paid to winners, the vast majority of lottery proceeds go to fund education. That was one of its selling points back when it was established. Losing that revenue will be a major blow to the state's beleaguered public education system.
Representative Rafael Anchia, a Dallas Democrat, chided his fellow House members, per a tweet from the Tribune's Aman Batheja.
"Bingo's dead now," he said. "They're going to have to go back to their constituents and explain why bingo is illegal."
Not everyone is so disappointed. Plano Republican Jeff Leach called the vote a "great day for all Texans," while small government activist Michael Quinn Sullivan declared triumphantly that "The sun has set on the Texas Lottery Commission!"
But the House vote to discontinue the TLC doesn't necessarily mean the death of the Texas lottery. Harold Cook, an Austin political consultant, put the odds of that happening at less than actually winning the lottery.
And House Speaker Joe Straus told that there are "workarounds" for keeping the lottery around.
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According to the Morning News, Anchia is launching an effort to have the bill reconsidered.
UPDATE: 4:27 p.m. Just kidding, everyone! The House has reauthorized the Texas Lottery Commission.
@budkennedy lol. That didn't last long.
— James Lerma (@jameslerma) April 23, 2013