NASHVILLE -- An early-morning, one-on-one meeting between Gov. Phil Bredesen and state Sen. Steve Cohen cleared the way Thursday for final passage of a Tennessee lottery. The two agreed on a formula that was later approved, 73-23 by the state House and 27-6 by the Senate. The makeup of a board of directors had been the only major sticking point between legislators trying to fashion a compromise to establish a state lottery. House members wanted to give the governor the majority of appointments. The governor would still have gotten the majority of appointments under the Senate lottery legislation, which also would have given the House and Senate speakers two appointments each. The governor and two speakers would then have agreed on a ninth member. During their meeting today, Cohen, D-Memphis, suggested a seven-member board, but the House and Senate each would have to confirm the appointments. Cohen says Bredesen quickly agreed. That cleared the way for a specially appointed lottery conference committee to finish its work and report back to the House and Senate Thursday afternoon. Once they settle the lottery issue, legislators need only pass the yearly appropriations bill before going home for the year. “I feel confident the governor will appoint quality people who will operate the lottery in a proper manner,” Cohen said. Throughout the legislative session, Cohen had fought against giving the governor the majority of board appointments. Cohen’s actions today represented a complete turnaround on his part. Cohen has said he wants to follow Georgia’s lottery program, and this latest action does just that. “There was no tradeoff whatsoever,” Cohen said during a committee meeting break. “I think it was Steve Cohen and Phil Bredesen starting a new relationship. Privately, Cohen had previously expressed disappointment that he had been unable to talk one-on-one with Bredesen about the lottery. “It was a good meeting. I just wish we had had it earlier,” he said. The compromise would let Bredesen appoint lottery board members who would serve at least until they are confirmed next year by the General Assembly. Cohen has spent much of his 21-year legislative career trying to establish a lottery in Tennessee. He got his wish last November when Tennessee voters overwhelmingly approved lifting a state constitutional ban on lotteries. Legislators say Tennesseans will be able to purchase lottery tickets as early as January.

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