HR1754 National Legislative Update
Last week, Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Andy Barr (R-KY) reintroduced the Horse Racing Integrity Act, which would federalize horse racing medication regulation by creating an independent entity to be called the Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority (HADA). The bill, H.R. 1754, is very similar in composition to its last iteration (H.R. 2651 in the 115th Congress), but there are several subtle changes in the new piece of proposed legislation. Primary among these differences are:
*H.R. 1754 now contains language that the anti-doping program should take into account the differences in breeds.
*Wording has been added stipulating that the funding mechanism designed by the states should be fairly allocated among different segments of the horse racing industry and can include a check-off system.
*The prohibition of takeout adjustments as a means of funding has been removed.
Most notable than what is different about H.R. 1754 (as compared to H.R. 2651) is what stayed the same, specifically the proposed elimination of all race day medications, including lasix. It had been speculated that, in light of scientific evidence to the contrary and the strong statements against its removal by several prominent veterinary groups, this particular facet of the bill would be altered or dropped entirely. That proved not to be the case.
The USTA has met face-to-face with both Reps. Tonko and Barr and elucidated its opposition to the Horse Racing Integrity Act. All of these meetings were cordial and productive, although the Association remains firm in its belief that H.R. 1754, as it is currently written, would be detrimental to harness racing. While H.R. 2651 had 131 bipartisan co-sponsors, it failed to make it out of committee. With the House since having flipped to the Democrats during this past election cycle, however, H.R. 1754 appears to have more initial momentum than did its predecessor, and has gained additional attention as a result of the well-publicized spate of Thoroughbred breakdowns this winter at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA. The proposed legislation will continue to be a major issue for all racing breeds in the coming year.
We will continue to maintain a presence on Capitol Hill and I will keep you updated as to any developments.