Blake's Lottery Reserve Bill on Hold
With the 2006 session of the North Carolina General Assembly winding up last week, his Senate Bill 1403 continues to languish in the Appropriations Committee. That's where the bill has rested since Blake reintroduced the measure earlier in the session.
"The idea is a good one," Blake said in a telephone interview. "As long as I'm around, we'll keep the idea afloat."
Blake, a Pinehurst Republican, acknowledged that he needs to persuade "some people at the top" to agree with his bill.
That may mean traveling to the other side of "the aisle" for friendly persuasion with Democrats. If he is re-elected, Blake said he will cross the aisle next year to push for approval.
"Last year, I met with Tony Rand and other Democrats (about the bill), and nobody ever suggested it wasn't a good law," Blake said.
Rand, a Cumberland County Democrat, is Senate majority leader.
The bill, titled "An act to create a trust fund for essential services to be funded from state lottery proceeds and to limit any expenditure from the fund until after Jan. 1, 2057," was first introduced in the 2005 session. It calls for the state annually to deposit 5 percent from lottery proceeds into a special trust fund that cannot be touched for 50 years.
The bill would require a constitutional amendment, and if it had passed, the measure would have been placed on the November ballot.
Blake figures that by 2057, the trust fund should contain a tidy sum that would be available for essential services, such as education needs.
"Two years ago, I put a lot of energy into the bill, but at that time the state leadership was lobbying for passage of the lottery bill," Blake said. "Opinions were split on the lottery."
He theorizes that lottery proponents were concentrating on passage of the lottery bill during that session and were not interested in bills on peripheral issues. The lottery was being strongly promoted on behalf of public education advocates who see the lottery as a practical way to channel non-tax money into the schools.
The bill did pass, and the lottery is now in effect. The first education proceeds are to be distributed to the schools in October.
"There were a lot of good people on both sides," Blake said of the lottery issue.
Blake opposed the lottery, as did most Republicans in the Senate. He voted against the measure.
Nevertheless, Blake said he was prepared for the lottery bill to pass last year and wanted the reserve fund bill to be available once the lottery was in place.
But it didn't happen last year or again this year.
On the subject of ethics legislation before the General Assembly, Blake said he would prefer to post the Ten Commandments on the walls of both chambers and instruct all lawmakers "to do our best to live by them." He said that if legislators would follow the Ten Commandments, then they wouldn't have so many problems with ethics.
Blake said supporters of the ethics bill mean well but the legislation itself is 49 pages of legal language that is difficult to interpret.
"First it spells out who's covered, then it lists all the exceptions," he said, adding that the exceptions will offer plenty of loopholes to trap the nave and to lure the wily.
Blake said application of the Ten Commandments extends beyond Christians and even atheists adhere to most of the basic points of those Old Testament pronouncements.
"We were taught that as kids, and legislators can do it today," he said.
Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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