Secretary of State John Merrill called an impromptu press conference Wednesday afternoon to set the record straight when it comes to the deadline to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot for November’s General Election. Speculation spread among lawmakers that the deadline might actually be Friday.
“The deadline to accept that particular constitutional amendment to appear on the November ballot is August 24th, 2016,” Merrill said. “I believe people can read certain sections of the code and they can interpret things the way they want to. It’s not our position to interpret the law, it’s our position to implement the law because we’re members of the executive branch.”
The bill passed out of the Economic Development and Tourism committee Wednesday afternoon which means it could be voted on in the House as early as Thursday.
“We’re ready to go to the floor and fully debate this bill. Any amendments that come, we’ll fully debate those and then go from there,” said Northport Representative Alan Harper.
According to Merrill, even if the bill passes on Thursday, it’s too late to be put it on the November ballot.
Springville Senator Jim McClendon told the committee before they voted that he didn’t agree with Merrill. The way he reads it, the deadline is Friday.
Merill said he’s sent a letter to the Attorney General’s office for an emergency opinion on the matter and if it differs from his, he’d change his stance.
In a press conference, Governor Robert Bentley told Alabamians and lawmakers not to get hung up on the date, but focus on keeping the lottery bill on track. He said he’d want a special election for the issue even though it will the state millions.
“Well, we’ll have to pay for it with the proceeds we get from the lottery,” Bentley said.
The House of Representatives convenes Thursday at 10 a.m. to debate the lottery bill.