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Category: Legislation & Regulation

Racing Rocked Annapolis

By Tom LaMarra (originally published on tharacing.com, the official website for the national Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association). The Maryland racing industry’s efforts to educate lawmakers and present a unified front paid off during the 2017 General Assembly session that ended April 10. The Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act contained several provisions that, had they passed, would have shifted money from the Purse Dedication Account, which is funded by a percentage of video lottery terminal revenue at the state’s six casinos. On the table was a recommendation for the industry, not the state, to pay about $2.5 million for Maryland Racing Commission operations, and another to strike a 2016 legislature-approved measure for the Maryland Lottery to pay $500,000 for a Preakness Stakes bonus for Maryland-bred or -sired runners that compete in the race, and $500,000 to revive an international turf stakes at Laurel Park. As a result of negotiations, the state will continue to fund the racing commission and the combined $1 million for the bonus and what is being called the Maryland International will still come from the Maryland Lottery. Representatives of the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries spent quite a bit of time in Annapolis during the winter and early spring to make the case that racing and breeding is making a comeback, and denting the purse account would be detrimental to the industry and the state’s economy. “I’m happy,”...

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The 2017 Maryland Legislative Session enters final phase

Yesterday, March 20, 2017, the first official day of spring, was – in the Maryland legislature – also “Crossover Date.” Crossover date is a big deal! For a bill to pass and become law, it must be approved by both chambers. If a bill fails to “cross over,” it is most probably dead for this session. Please note the equivocation on that: “most probably.” As with every rule, there is an exception: a bill could still be resurrected via “Rules.” But for a bill sponsor to do that, he or she is using up a chit, so they will...

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Mucking for Gold

A bill not likely to pop up on the average horse person’s radar, but one that could have a subtle yet profound impact on the horse industry, is Senate Bill 99 and it cross-filed cousin House Bill 171. With the cumbersome and decidedly non-sexy title of “Environment: Yard Waste, and Food Residuals, and Other Organic Materials Diversion and Infrastructure – Study,” why would any horse person pay attention to this bill? And what does this bill do? In essence, this bill requires the Department of the Environment to consult with certain entities (including the Maryland Horse Council) and to...

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Annapolis Update: Bills that Could Affect Your Horse World

The Maryland legislative session is now hot and heavy. Over 2,600 bills have been filed, and things are moving fast, with hearings, motions, amendments, and crossovers. In the updates below, The Equiery uses the following terms with the associated meanings: “Stalled” or “stalled out” can refer to bills that has had hearings weeks ago but no action has happened, or it can refer to bills that have been filed but have yet to receive a hearing, and at this late date are unlikely to have a hearing. This is one way a bill can die in committee, without overtly...

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Racing’s Equine Medical Director: Victim of Legislative Chaos?

by Frank Vespe; originally appeared on theracingbiz.com; reprinted and reposted with permission of Frank Vespe Legislation that would have created an equine medical director position in Maryland has been withdrawn, victim to the fast-moving chaos of the legislative session. The bill, supporters decided, was “untimely,” as Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) president Sal Sinatra termed it. The MJC, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and Maryland Horse Breeders Association, as well as the state’s Standardbred interests, all were on board. But the bill became untimely in the face of a proposal to take millions of dollars out of racing industry purses. With...

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Mid-way in the 2017 Maryland Legislative Session

The 437th session of the Maryland General Assembly is in full swing!  Also known as the “Legislative Session,” these 90 days are an intense roller coaster of parliamentary drama. Most Maryland senators and delegates leave their “real jobs” and “real lives” for 3 months, relocating to Annapolis to craft the laws and regulations that govern our state.  It is not uncommon for 2,000 – 3,000 bills to be filed each session, and every single one of them receives at least one hearing before session adjourns on April. Session convened on January 11, and the first month is usually pretty low-key...

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