Rep. Arlo James, D-Kearns, is willing to gamble. He told the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on Thursday that he'll be back "77 more years" in hopes that the odds against a Utah lottery would change.
The committee dashed his hopes for a "lucky seventh" attempt, soundly defeating his effort to get SJR21 onto the House floor for debate.James said a majority of states now have such lotteries and are helping to fund education and other programs with the income. Lotteries have been acceptable means of financing public projects, including the U.S. War for Independence, the Civil War and the entire water system of England, he said.
Many Utahns patronize the Idaho lottery across the state border, he noted, contributing $5 million in a single year. "But we have to tell Utah County they can't have a four-year college because we don't have the money."
When the bill was defeated, James accused the committee of functioning illegally, without a quorum. Only seven members were present, while 16 are listed as members. However, it was noted that two members have been absent more than two meetings in a row, allowing the committee to drop them from membership.
James then suggested some committee members should be forced to declare a conflict of interest on the basis of separation of church and state. He alluded to the ongoing opposition of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to a lottery.
"I'm upset," he said, for the benefit of those who hadn't already guessed.