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1/27/2023

UPDATED: Companion Bill dropped in the Senate

Earlier this week we reported a key bill that would greatly assist Thoroughbred racing was introduced in the House of Representatives (full story is below). An identical companion bill has now been dropped into the Senate and is headed to the upper chamber’s Business, Financial Service’s, Gaming and Trade Committee for review. 

Senate Bill 5598 is identical to House Bill 1529 and provides 6-million dollars a year to help horse racing and recreational opportunities involving equines. The bill is fully explained in our first post that is below. The Senate Bill was introduced with 9 Senators sponsoring the action in a bipartisan effort and they include Republicans Phil Fortunato, Mark Schoesler, Jeff Wilson and Mike Padden along with Democrats Mark Mullet, Joe Nguyen, Karen Keiser, Claudia Kauffman and Sam Hunt.

This is a great development for supporters of this bill because it now has two pathways to a vote. The bill becoming a law process is a difficult road where something as simple as they ran out of time to get to it can derail a bill’s path to becoming law. If either one of these bills can get to a floor vote and pass it then gets moved to the other house where the bill would normally go through a reconciliation process to make it the same and in this case it already is which also saves a step. Then it comes down to whether those leading their respective houses call the bill to the floor for a vote.

Last year a similar bill cruised through the House with a huge bipartisan majority voting in favor but some of the language was a sticking point in the Senate and the bill failed after not getting a chance to be voted on in the Senate. The belief is the concerns of those from last year have been fixed and the hope is the momentum from last year carries over with the fixes in place to get the bill to the Governor’s desk. Governor Inslee has not given any hint of opposition to this bill and is expected to sign it if it gets to him.

-What you can do-

For those that would like to share their support with the members of Senate committee who will be reviewing it click on the link to the committee below and the list of Senators is there and you can click on their name for their e-mail or you can call their phone number also listed and give your support to their aides and they keep track of all those calls and e-mails and share them with the Senator.

We have provided a 1 paragraph template if you want use to send to your Senator or any Senator on the committee or any of the Senators. We have been told when an issue hits 100 responses one way or another that gets the attention of the lawmakers so each communication is important if you want this bill to pass. Below that are the links to the committee and the links to all Senators. The exact same information but for the House of Representatives is at the bottom of this post.

Here’s our sample e-mail:

“Dear Honorable (Rep Name),

I am writing to you in support of SB5598, that supports our Equine industries all across the state. The horse industry is a part of Washington State history and has always been a great partner to our citizens. The industry is in need of help and support of this bill will help keep the horse racing industry alive in the state. It also is going to help all equine organizations, groups and schools from 4H to High School Equestrian teams to County Fairs and therapeutic programs and more. Please support SB5598, I urge you to vote yes.

Sincerely,
(Your Name and city)”

Link to Senate Bill 5598

Link to the Senate’s Business, Financial Service’s, Gaming and Trade Committee

Link to all Senator’s Names, E-Mails and Phone Numbers

-0-

Original Story Posted on 1/24/2023

(Olympia, WA) In a previous opinion piece it was described that this off-season may be the most important to Washington State thoroughbred racing since pari-mutual wagering was approved back in 1933 that led to the construction of Longacres Race Course. The reason is what has been titled House Bill 1529 or HB1529.  The bill was introduced this morning with bi-partisan support from Republican Representative Joe Schmick from the 9th District and Democrat Chris Stearns from the 47th District.

Rep. Chris Stearns. D-47
Rep. Joe Schmick, R-9

The Bill (link below) directs the State Treasurer to deposit up 6-million dollars annually into a newly designated account called the Washington Equine Industry Reinvestment account. The revenue of up to 6-million dollars is a portion of the already existing taxes on equine products and services. Money from the account can only be spent to provide assistance to legalized horse racing and the recreational use of horses in Washington State. The first 6-million dollars collected annually would go to this fund. The amount currently collected is not broken out by the Treasurer’s office but is believed to be far more than the 6-million being requested in this bill so it would be a surprise if it were less than the limit. 

The money will cover expenses such as the cost of operating the State Horse Racing Commission. Currently the commission’s budget is between 1.2 and 1.5 million dollars and is paid solely by the industry. The remainder of the money will be distributed with 65% going to class 1 racing associations which is only Emerald Downs. Emerald Downs can use this money to cover expenses such as shipping and recruitment programs, equine health and safety programs, research, track surface improvements and long-term maintenance, veterinary staff, security, on-duty paramedics, EMT’s, starting gate personnel, outriders and 5% to the horsemen’s benevolent and protective association to help with low-fee medical and dental care, education and recreation programs and assistance for labor and industries claim monitoring programs.

10-percent of the fund will go to support non-profit class C race meets, 10-percent goes to supplement Washington-bred horses and breeders and 10% goes to grants that support equine activities. This is expected to be at least $400,000 that will be awarded to 4H clubs, schools with riding or equestrian programs, to County Fairs to Rodeos to groups that build and/or maintain riding trails to adoption programs for retired horses to therapy programs for special needs kids and adults and programs for veterans suffering from PTSD or basically any program that includes horses are eligible to apply for the grants. Although not decided it is likely the commission will form a committee that will review the requests on an annual basis and make those awards.

This morning we also got word that a similar bill is being circulated through the Senate and a companion bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate in the next few days. This can be a real time saver as when the two bills work their way through the committee process on their sides they go through a reconciliation process that works out any differences and then are voted on in each the House and Senate. This avoids having one voted on and sent over to the other body but they want a change and send it back and so forth.  

Right now HB 1529 has been sent straight to the House Appropriations committee and if it passes out of that committee it will head to the House floor for a full vote. The process is similar in the Senate, when the bill is introduced it likely will be sent to the Senate Ways and Means committee and if it passes would be sent straight to the floor for a vote. 

Of course the governor must also sign the bill, but there has been no indication from Governor Inslee’s office there is any opposition to this bill and has signaled he would sign it if it makes it to his desk.

-What you can do-

You can contact your State House Representatives and State Senator to tell them you support this bill. You are free to contact any legislator with your comments and support of HB1529. We have also linked specifically the House Appropriations committee where you can send each member a note of your support. Your note should be brief and to the point. Something as simple as:

“Dear Honorable (Rep Name),

I am writing to you in support of HB1529, that supports our Equine industries all across the state. The horse industry is a part of Washington State history and has always been a great partner to our citizens. The industry is in need of help and support of this bill will help keep the horse racing industry alive in the state. It also is going to help all equine organizations, groups and schools from 4H to High School Equestrian teams to County Fairs and therapeutic programs and more. Please support HB1529, I urge you to vote yes.

Sincerely,
(Your Name and city)”

Something of that nature and 1 paragraph is most effective. Don’t be afraid to copy and paste the same message to any of the lawmakers you’d like to send your message. You can send your message to just your Representatives or to the entire Appropriations committee, that is up to you. Additionally, a phone call to their office simply letting their aides know of your support also works. The aides keep track of such calls and pass those on. Again, keep your message short and to the point in a respectful manner will get your voice heard. Legislator’s pay close attention to these messages and give them a lot of consideration when they are deciding whether or not to support bills such as this. 

We will keep you updated on the progress of this bill and if and when the Senate bill is introduced we will pass on the contact information for that bill as well. If you want long term stabilization of racing and support of all things equine, this is the time for you to let your voice be heard. Below are some quick links to help you get your message out.

To read the bill itself it is linked here: You can read and follow the progress of HB 1529 by clicking on this link

Link to House Appropriations Committee Names, E-mail and Phone Numbers

Link to all House Members Names, E-mail and Phone Numbers

 

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By paulb

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