In excess of 218 members, representing a majority of 435 voting members in the U.S. House of Representatives, have co-sponsored the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 (HIA). The bill was introduced in the House by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Andy Barr (R-KY).
“Bi-partisan support from more than 218 members is a critical milestone because it demonstrates to House leadership that the bill will pass on the House floor,” said Shawn Smeallie, executive director of the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity. “Clearly Congress recognizes that the current patchwork quilt of state regulations that govern the industry is failing and an effective anti-doping program with a national set of drug standards is needed to bring equine safety and integrity back to the sport.”
The bill, also being considered by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce, is supported by the chair and original co-sponsor, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). Subsequent to the passage by the sub and full committees, the bill would advance to the House floor for a vote by the House of Representatives.
The HIA would create a private, independent horse racing anti-doping authority, the Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority (HADA), responsible for developing and administering a nationwide anti-doping and medication control program for horse racing. The new authority would create a set of uniform anti-doping rules, including lists of permitted and prohibited substances and methods in line with international anti-doping standards and veterinarian ethical standards. The new nationwide rules would replace the current state-by-state regulatory mechanism that governs horse racing's 38 separate racing jurisdictions.
The HIA, which was originally introduced by Congressmen Barr and Tonko in 2015 and later re-introduced in 2017 and 2019. The amended 2017 version of the bill, which is nearly identical to the current version. The modifications include the increase of the number of HADA board members with horse racing-related expertise; the addition of active members from the racing industry to technical advisory committees and increased protection against retrospective enforcement of pre-HIA rules. Changes also include a ban on the use of medication on race days.
“Momentum is building to reform the horse racing industry and establish a meaningful and effective drug control program,” continued Smeallie. “This past year highlighted many of the challenges facing the horse racing industry, and the Horseracing Integrity Act will go a long way to improving the health of our equine athletes.”
A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) and currently has 17 co-sponsors.