by Jane Seigler, Chair of Government Relations Committee (first published in the October 2022 Equiery)
MHC is a Trade Association
The Maryland Horse Council is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(6) nonprofit trade association. What does that mean? That means our main mission is to represent and connect all the incredibly diverse segments of our large and thriving horse industry and equestrian community, with the purpose of ensuring that we continue to grow and thrive. To achieve that end, we devote a lot of effort to watch-dogging and bird-dogging legislators and regulators.
The Maryland Horse Council’s constituency includes over 40 breed, interest and discipline associations, plus horse farms and stables, horse-related businesses, and horse owners representing all facets of the Maryland equestrian community, from the owners of race horses and race tracks, to the owners of international level competition horses, local sport horses, trail horses or just beloved retired companion horses. Our constituency also includes vets, tack stores, and horse enthusiasts throughout the state.
We absolutely rely on membership support of all Maryland horse people. If you are not a Maryland Horse Council member, whoever you are – you should join now! Your membership is needed and directly translates to horse power in the halls of power! https://www.mdhorsecouncil.org/membership/mhc-membership-options
There are over 100,000 horses in Maryland. Every single one of them needs and deserves a special advocate and champion. Won’t you join us in being that for them? With your membership in the Maryland Horse Council, you can stand up and show up for the horses you care about. https://www.mdhorsecouncil.org/membership/mhc-membership-options
In recognition of and service to our diverse constituency, a significant component of our core mission is to lobby state and local governments for sensible, sustainable, and economically sound legislation and regulations that support the Maryland horse community. That work is accomplished through the Maryland Horse Council’s Government Relations Committee. The range of issues we work on includes equine welfare, employment and labor, environment, land use and zoning, transportation and motor vehicles, public parks and trails, energy, insurance and liability, taxation, revenue and funding, open space preservation, Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing, and more. In a recent survey of our members, 79% said that the Maryland Horse Council’s legislative work was their main reason for joining.
Although we work with state regulatory agencies and some local governments as the need arises, the majority of the work of the Government Relations Committee is with the state legislature, the Maryland General Assembly. We pound the pavement in Annapolis to visit with lawmakers, plead our case, testify at hearings, and explain the impact and importance of the horse industry to the history, culture, and vibrant economy of Maryland. If that is important to you, join now! https://www.mdhorsecouncil.org/membership/mhc-membership-options
The Maryland General Assembly’s 47 state senators and 141 state delegates meet in Annapolis each year from mid-January to mid-April for a 90 day “Session,” during which the legislature will consider over 2,500 bills. The Maryland Horse Council Government Relations Committee reviews each bill, and determines whether and how the Maryland Horse Council will take action, which may include submitting written testimony and testifying in person at the bill hearings. Almost without exception, each of the 2500+ bills introduced in the 90-day session will have a public hearing, so January to April is a very busy time for us! In addition to our Committee efforts, we also regularly reach out to our members, asking them to contact their legislators in support of or in opposition to a bill, and sometimes to join us in Annapolis to testify at a hearing or meet privately with a legislator. This in-person contact is a powerful and effective tool in our lobbying toolbox, which is why Maryland Horse Council membership is essential to our success.
MHC Legislative Victories
Over the years, we have racked up an impressive list of legislative gains. And, we are respected and relied upon for trusted input on proposed legislation that might affect horse people.
A few of our very recent legislative accomplishments include:
• requiring those who lease state land adjacent to public trail heads to maintain access for trail riders and first responders,
• negotiating a comprehensive law on procedures following seizure of abused and neglected equines
• broadening the state law prohibiting interference with horses to include harassment of carriage horses
• ensuring that horse facilities will be protected in a review of how “improvements” to agricultural properties will be assessed for tax purposes.
For more information about our history of accomplishments, see: https://www.mdhorsecouncil.org/about-us/our-accomplishments
So all this is important, right? Somebody needs to make this happen, right? Well, that somebody is YOU!
How can you help?
• Join the Horse Council (only $40 for an individual annual membership) https://www.mdhorsecouncil.org/membership/mhc-membership-options, and a portion of each membership dollar goes to the PAC
• Be available to contact your legislators when MHC reaches out to you
• Be willing to provide written or, if possible, in-person testimony when needed
• Volunteer and/or join a committee to help the MHC achieve its goals
• Donate to the PAC!
MHC Political Action Committee
As many of us gather this month across the state to celebrate Maryland’s Horse Month and attend such activities as the Capital Challenge Horse Show, Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, Maryland Million or Washington International Horse Show (which returns to Maryland this year!), and so many other great horse events, we hope you will consider supporting the Maryland Horse Council PAC!
For better or for worse, money talks in politics. The very existence of our PAC means that we get the attention of legislators and candidates. Our ability to financially support those officials who support the Maryland horse industry is crucial to the success of our mission, so please contribute to the PAC today! Go to mdhorsecouncil.org and click on the PAC Donate on the bottom left.
Absolutely ANY donation is welcome: $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, $250, or any amount. It is essential that we build up a sizable war chest. Although the PAC can take donations anytime, our ability to donate to candidates for the 2023 session ends when the session starts in January, so please help us and consider donating now! PAC Donate button is on the bottom left of mdhorsecouncil.org!