One of the few lottery bills that actually had legs this legislative session had them cut out from under them this afternoon.

House Ways and Means Committee rejected SB 180/a, the bill that sought to remove a mandate that sent 30 percent of lottery revenue to scholarships in order to maximize the bottom line that in turn promised to maximize the revenue available for scholarships. Proponents for SB 180/a say the proposed changes would make NM’s lottery more competitive in the marketplace and ultimately provide more money for students. Opponents said it will ultimately cost students and could expand gambling.

Students at the hearing spoke both in favor and in opposition to the bill. The majority of committee members were uncomfortable with language in the bill and were not ready to let go of the 30 percent mandate for scholarships. Expect to see this bill again next year for its third try at clearing both Houses.

Earlier today, Senate Finance Committee gave a Do Pass to SB 79, which transfers all unclaimed lottery prizes to the scholarship fund. It’s estimated the unclaimed prizes amount to between $1-2 million per year.

Tonight, the House could take action on the General Obligation Bond bill that now has $42.5 million for UNM and UNM branch projects, with yesterday’s addition of a Health Sciences education building at UNM West in House Ways and Means Committee.