Kentucky House Passes HISA Funding Review Resolution

Matthew Koch | courtesy of Matthew Koch

One day after Kentucky's state senate adopted a resolution by voice vote to urge a review of the HISA funding methodology, the Kentucky House of Representatives did the same. House Resolution 98, “A resolution expressing concerns regarding the unintended consequences of the current funding methodology of the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act,” was adopted by a voice vote in the House.

The resolution was sponsored by Republican representative Matthew Koch, and Democratic representative Al Gentry.

The language is identical to that of its companion resolution in the Senate, contained in Friday's TDN.

The sponsor of the Senate resolution was Damon Thayer, who commented upon what he felt was a need for the review.

“While I support the HISA goals of uniformity and standardization of racing rules, its implementation so far has been less than inspiring and it may still be ruled unconstitutional,” said Thayer in a text. “Now HISA is trying to force a funding model that is unfair to Kentucky racing and potentially taxpayers with an unfunded mandate the punishes us for our success. I do not support this approach and this Resolution, which passed unanimously in the House and Senate, memorializes that and urges consideration of a different formula. At best, HISA should be funded with an annual federal government appropriation, but at the very least should not have a funding model that is punitive to successful racing states like Kentucky.”

A statement from Rick Hiles, the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) president, read:

“We applaud the Kentucky Senate, led by sponsors Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer and John Schickel, and the Kentucky House of Representatives, with Reps. Matt Koch and Al Gentry the sponsors, for their resolution that raises many of the concerns we have about the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act and the private Authority corporation it created and granted broad powers.

“No matter the inflammatory rhetoric slung at the National HBPA, the resolution–which passed unanimously in both the Senate and House on Thursday–shows that reasonable persons understand that HISA was rushed into existence with a flawed process. They understand our stated concerns about unintended consequences that could devastate portions of our industry across the country, including Kentucky.

“It's gratifying to have leadership that understands that the HISA challenge by the National HBPA, many of its affiliates including Kentucky, the United States Trotting Association, several state racing commissions and attorneys generals and others is because we all want our industry to be strong and to do better and better. All these parties are in complete support of measures that promote integrity, uniformity and fair racing but this must be accomplished only through lawful, accountable and transparent means.

“Prominent in the resolution is the very real threat that the financial structure set up by this unfunded mandate will jeopardize small and medium-sized tracks and smaller stables. That in turn will have a huge impact on Kentucky's breeding and racing industries, as well as the agribusiness that is fueled by horse racing.

“Kentucky is blessed to have legislative leadership such as Senators Thayer and Schickel and Representatives Koch and Gentry, among others, who understand our industry, its complexities and appreciate that racing in Kentucky and elsewhere has many levels that contribute to the entire ecosystem. To destabilize parts of it, we believe, will have unintended consequences to all involved in the industry from top to bottom.”

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