Senators Send Letter to HISA, FTC About 'Chaotic' Implementation Process

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Four U.S. senators, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and John Kennedy (R-LA), sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority Monday asking for clarification and explanation about HISA's ability to meet its upcoming July 1 implementation deadlines for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA).

“The Authority publicly stated in a December 2021 press release that it will not implement the Anti-Doping and Medication Control program by the statutory deadline of July 1, 2022,” the letter said. “This deadline is statutorily required and neither the FTC nor the Authority have the authority to extend this deadline. The Authority's release also makes clear that the Authority has not submitted proposed Anti-Doping and Medication Control program regulations to the FTC in compliance with the statute. HISA required the Authority to issue the rule for Anti-Doping and Medication Control not later than 120 days before the program effective date of July 1, 2022. This deadline has passed, and it appears the Authority failed to meet the statutory requirements.”

The letter also raised questions about reports of the Authority delaying rules regarding riding crops and horseshoes, calling the implementation process 'chaotic' and as a result difficult to comply with for horsemen.

“Recent news reports also highlight that the Authority will postpone enforcement of newly approved rules regarding horseshoes and riding crop specifications, initially set to take effect on July 1, 2022 under the Racetrack Safety Program. This is also concerning because we understand the initial rules were functionally impossible for industry participants to implement due to limited supply chain availability of horseshoes and riding crops. This raises questions about what industry representatives were consulted in the drafting of the rule. And now, only one week before the rule was set to take effect, the Authority published a notice announcing a one month delay in enforcement of these rules. This chaotic implementation process and poor communication by the Authority makes it difficult for industry participants to comply with the new rules and regulations. Additionally, continuously changing implementation dates for new rules and regulations, and last-minute delays, cause more confusion and difficulty with implementation.”

The National HBPA applauded the letter Tuesday, saying in a statement, “Hardworking, day-to-day horsemen and horsewomen want safe and clean horse racing, and the Authority is failing in its duty to realize this goal. The Authority and HISA staff are populated with members who do not offer a true inclusive representation for the entire industry, and because of that we are seeing what lack of proper input from all participants causes. They are brazenly violating federal law by missing deadlines and staff are admitting in public forums that the FTC gave them permission to do so. We fully support Senator Grassley's efforts to find out why this is happening.”

TDN has reached out to both the FTC and HISA for comment.

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