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Category: Legislation & Regulation

Maryland Legislative March Madness!

Caroline County Sunday Hunting, Animal Crime Penalties, Arabian Racing, Open Space & Preservation, Compounding of Vet Drugs A key date in the ninety-day session of the Maryland General Assembly is “cross-over day;” this is the day that if a bill is not voted out of its original house, so that it can “cross-over” to the opposite chamber for debate, it is effectively dead for this year. 2016 cross-over day was March 21; the 2016 legislative session will officially adjourn on April 11 (also known as “sine die”), and so – as you read this, there is a rush of...

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Racing Commission approves OTB at Timonium fairgrounds

Late on Monday, February 22, the much-anticipated decision by the Maryland Racing Commission was released: in a vote of 7-0 (with two abstentions) the commission approved the Maryland Jockey Club’s request for full-time, year-round off-track betting parlor in the Maryland State Fair grandstands. The Timonium parlor will be the fourth OTB in Maryland, and the first in Baltimore County.  Maryland law already allowed for an OTB at the state fairgrounds, which was operational during the 10 days of the August state fair; state law did not limit the OTB days to 10. Nevertheless, in order to expand, permission was needed from the Racing Commission. Residents and local elected officials, however, fearful of gambling and that the OTB would become a slots parlor, have vowed to fight the facility via local zoning legislation. For more information, see Jeff Barker’s article in The Baltimore...

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The Maryland Horse Industry Legislative Day: Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The 436th session of the Maryland General Assembly began on January 13, 2016 and closes on April 11. To date, there have been 1,104 bills introduced in the Senate and 1,575 in the House. And the Maryland Horse Council attempts to review all of them for any potential or significant impact on the horse industry or in the equestrian community. For more on current bills, please scroll down. On Tuesday, February 23, members of the Maryland equestrian community are invited to participate in Maryland Horse Industry Day in Annapolis, which begins at 1 p.m. and concludes with a cocktail reception. Speakers during the day include (but are not limited to) Senate President Mike Miller; Senator JB Jennings (currently owns a boarding stable with his wife, and is a former feed store owner); Senator Joan Carter Conway; David Brinkley, former pony clubber and Secretary of the Department of Budget & Management; Joseph Bartenfelder, Secretary of Agriculture; Mark Belton, Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources; Kelly Schulz, Secretary of the Department of Labor & Licensing. Click here to learn more or to register. During the day, members of the Maryland equestrian community will discuss the following legislative priorities with elected and appointed officials: Protecting, Promoting & Maintaining Open Space Promote the maintenance and preservation of open space, with equine and multi-user access, including the use of State Highway Administration funds...

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Thoroughbred industry unites for Timonium Fairgrounds OTB

TO READ ABOUT THE RACING COMMISSION HEARING: The Baltimore Sun The Racing Biz WBAL Racing Commission Hearing Thursday February 11; Horse people encouraged to attend Tonight, the Maryland State Fair Association and the Maryland Jockey Club attempt to make amends and build bridges with the residents surrounding the York Road fairgrounds after an unexpected community backlash its newly installed satellite simulcast facility (a.k.a. off-track betting facility or OTB) nestled on the second floor of the grandstands, will be adjacent to the current dining room. The dining room and satellite simulcast facility area will be completely renovated with the dining room operated by Hightopps Backstage Grill. In January, MJC and the State Fair were all set to launch when an unexpected furor erupted, with local residents claiming they were blindsided and that MJC is attempting to quietly ramrod thru a gambling facility while the community was distracted by the blizzard. Local elected officials have railed that they were not notified. Residents insist that the law prohibits additional gambling facilities in Timonium, and at least one county councilman is considering a zoning bill to prohibit the OTB. However, last week, the Maryland Attorney General’s office stated that simulcast or off-track betting “does not constitute an additional form or expansion of commercial gaming for which a referendum would be required” under the state Constitution. Furthermore, according to the Baltimore Business Journal’s article on...

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Governor announces budget, restores funding for land preservation

What O’Malley did, Hogan moves to undo In 2013, via his Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act, Governor Martin O’Malley authorized the transfer into the General Fund of $82.7 million in FY 2017 and $86.0 million in FY 2018, taking the funds away from land preservation and recreation programs. Governor Larry Hogan intends to fix that and to restore the funds to these important land programs. The Governor’s Fiscal Year 2017 operating budget is Senate Blll 190, cross-filed as House Bill 150, and the Capital Budget is SB191/HB151.  The legislation will reduce the authorized transfer amounts in FY 2017 and...

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ACTION ALERT: Action needed now to support H-2B Program

From the American Horse Council Does your equine business rely on foreign workers? If so, you probably rely on the H-2B visa program. The H-2B program is used by members of the horse industry, principally horse trainers and owners who cannot find American workers to fill semi-skilled jobs as grooms, exercise riders, and stable attendants at racetracks, horse shows, fairs and in similar non-agricultural activities. Congress will need to take action on all fiscal year 2016 appropriations bills before current funding expires December 11, 2015.   The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Labor (DOL) appropriations bills, include important and helpful language that will make the H-2B program easier for employers to use.  However, there is no guarantee this language will be included in the 2016 appropriations package or “Omnibus bill” that is being negotiated now and action is need immediately. If you, your business or your segment of the horse industry rely on H-2B workers, please contact your Senators to express support for the H-2B appropriations language that is included in the DOL and DHS appropriations bills.  Urge them to sign the H-2B letter being circulated by Senators Tillis (R-NC) and Warner (D-VA) and Rep. Boustany (R-LA) that asks the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to include all of the beneficial H-2B provisions from both the House and Senate DHS and DOL bills in any...

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