Ivey Q&A: Governor discusses gambling, prisons and COVID

Kay Ivey | Photo: MGN Online

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says she will not negotiate a compact with a federal Native American tribe unless voters approve expanded gambling.

Posted: Feb 3, 2021 2:15 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama voters should be the ones who decide whether to expand casino offerings or create a state lottery, Gov. Kay Ivey said Wednesday as she vowed to not negotiate a compact with a federal Native American tribe unless voters approve expanded gambling.

“I just strongly believe the people have the final say in that issue,” Ivey told reporters in an interview in her office.

Republican Sen. Del Marsh is expected to introduce a lottery and casino bill in the coming weeks. The governor said her office does not plan to negotiate with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians for casino games unless Alabamians approve Marsh's constitutional amendment to expand gambling.

“Voters have to approve to expand gambling before we can do a compact,” she said.

Ivey said her primary role in the upcoming debate will be to monitor, but said locations should be limited because the state doesn't need "gaming on every corner.”

“We need it regulated. And if we do it in the right way, I think not only we’ll become the envy of other states, but also our people will benefit in a responsible way,” Ivey said.

The governor sat down Wednesday for a brief interview with reporters from The Associated Press, al.com and the Montgomery Advertiser. Ivey also defended her plan to lease new prisons instead of building them. Lawmakers have criticized the proposal that could cost $3 billion over 30 years.

Ivey, a Republican, expressed doubt about a Senate bill that would limit the power of the state health officer and governor during a pandemic. The bill comes as a reaction to lengthy public health orders. Ivey did not commit to legislative proposals to change sentencing laws or to alter the state law that prohibits the removal of monuments.

Here is how she answered questions on a range of subjects. Some answers have been condensed for brevity.

Q. As you’re aware there’s been a lot of frustration among people in the early rollout of the COVID vaccine, people unable to get appointments. Where do you think the downfall has been?

A. “I don’t focus on downfalls. Let’s find out what we can do to fix it. (The Health Department) has recently released the online portal. You can go there and sign up for an appointment, even though it may not be immediate. .... So that’s easier to get than just the telephone number."

Q. What have you been telling the feds about what the state needs to get more people vaccinated?

A. “We need more vaccine. Actually, we were promised a whole lot more (vaccine) than what’s been delivered and even with the slight increase that we got, it’s still not nearly enough to meet our needs.”

Q. This morning the Senate committee passed a bill that would limit the time for a state of emergency from 60 days to 14 days and require essentially the Legislature to approve any further renewal of a state of emergency. How do you feel about that bill?

A. “I don’t know that we need to limit the hands of decision makers, especially when they’re guided by health people trying to give us good advice too. We’ll just have to see where that goes.”

Q. Governor, can you respond to the criticisms from lawmakers from both parties that signing these prison leases is a whole lot of debt to get the state into with the stroke of a pen, and that it should be a legislative decision?

A. We’re not incurring debt. We’re not borrowing money. We’re not raising taxes. We’re operating on savings. ... We’ve not maintained our prisons through the years for decades, hence our problem. So, doing nothing is absolutely no option. You’ve got the DOJ and the federal government breathing down our necks on that issue. And we’ve just got to have new prisons as the base to get us started, to provide safety for the inmates and the officers, and to start rehabilitating instead of just warehousing prisoners.”

Q. Would you support any changes to the Memorial Preservation Act?

A. “I haven’t dwelled on that yet. It’s important to preserve our past. Maybe we need to do some other things to honor civil rights leaders. I’m certainly open to that, but I haven’t spent much time yet on that issue.”

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 308111

Reported Deaths: 7122
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20826248
Hinds19910411
Harrison17510302
Rankin13334276
Jackson13118243
Madison9908210
Lee9871170
Jones8297160
Forrest7525147
Lauderdale7198237
Lowndes6272144
Lamar611084
Lafayette6039117
Washington5281133
Bolivar4772129
Oktibbeha455897
Panola4445103
Pearl River4428141
Warren4284118
Marshall4276100
Pontotoc416972
Monroe4061132
Union403975
Neshoba3994176
Lincoln3871109
Hancock372885
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329589
Tate322782
Pike3188104
Scott310872
Yazoo304468
Alcorn298065
Itawamba297177
Copiah293265
Coahoma289778
Simpson288284
Tippah284868
Prentiss275759
Marion266079
Leake261373
Wayne261341
Grenada255384
Covington254780
Adams246082
Newton245161
George238147
Winston225981
Tishomingo222267
Jasper219748
Attala213473
Chickasaw205057
Holmes186872
Clay182854
Stone179331
Clarke177076
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163531
Yalobusha159236
Smith158834
Walthall130643
Greene129433
Lawrence126423
Noxubee126233
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120926
Amite120141
Webster113532
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102725
Claiborne101330
Benton97325
Kemper95428
Humphreys94332
Franklin82123
Quitman78916
Choctaw73417
Wilkinson64928
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 520503

Reported Deaths: 10722
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754091487
Mobile38938798
Madison33898495
Tuscaloosa25297443
Montgomery23992567
Shelby23124239
Baldwin20652300
Lee15541165
Calhoun14301311
Morgan14145270
Etowah13665346
Marshall11967219
Houston10381278
Elmore10001200
Limestone9822147
Cullman9481188
St. Clair9435234
Lauderdale9223227
DeKalb8748181
Talladega8071171
Walker7100275
Jackson6762110
Autauga6734103
Blount6497135
Colbert6210130
Coffee5404112
Dale4766110
Russell429038
Franklin419982
Chilton4087109
Covington4056114
Tallapoosa3898146
Escambia388574
Dallas3531149
Chambers3503122
Clarke346560
Marion3066100
Pike305876
Lawrence295395
Winston272572
Bibb256459
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens233059
Barbour225255
Hale218775
Butler212566
Fayette209260
Henry187744
Cherokee182144
Randolph176941
Monroe172040
Washington164238
Macon154848
Clay149555
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146241
Lamar139334
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109128
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene91034
Choctaw58724
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