State Politics

February 14, 2006

Lawsuit could freeze lottery

A judge is considering whether to order a quick halt to preparations for the state lottery.

Lawyers for two legal interest groups Monday asked Superior Court Judge Henry "Chip" Hight to stop all work on the lottery, then rule the lottery unconstitutional for procedural reasons.

The N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law and the N.C. Justice Center contend the lottery law is invalid because lawmakers didn't vote on it last year on three different days, as is required for "revenue bills."

The state argues that the lottery law wasn't a revenue bill and didn't establish a tax, as the private, nonprofit groups assert. So the legislature didn't have to vote on it three times, lawyers for the state maintain.

Hight said he'll decide by week's end whether to dismiss the groups' lawsuit or issue a preliminary injunction freezing lottery spending and contracting. If Hight issues the injunction, he's expected to schedule further legal arguments on whether to rule the lottery law unconstitutional.

MATTHEW EISLEY

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