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Open-government mandate added to Mississippi lottery bill

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — If Mississippi creates a lottery, its governing board would have to abide by the state’s longstanding Open Meetings and Public Records laws, under a plan advancing in the state House.

A bill that passed the state Senate on Thursday said a lottery corporation would be exempt from the government sunshine laws. The House Gaming Committee removed the exemption Friday after Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said he wanted the change.

“Of course it needs to be open records and open meetings,” Bryant told reporters Friday in a brief interview outside the Senate chamber.

The lottery bill moves to the full House for more debate. The House and Senate would have to agree on a final set of changes.

In the special session that started Thursday, Bryant is asking legislators to put hundreds of millions more dollars into state and local roads and bridges. One bill being considered would send cities and counties a portion of money that the state collects from sales tax on catalog and online sales. Proceeds from a lottery would also initially go into transportation.

The House Gaming Committee also tightened the prohibition on slot-machine-type video lottery terminals.

“I don’t want any type of gaming in truck stops or convenience stores, so we’re going to make sure that the bill covers and puts a clear prohibition on that,” Bryant said Friday.

House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Republican from Clinton, said he expected the Senate to make changes to the bill House members passed Thursday diverting some taxes on online sales to cities and counties. That bill could also face disputes if leaders decide to designate some of the $300 million in bonds the state is borrowing for particular projects. The House removed such provisions Thursday.