December 2016 Issue - page 4

Page 4
December 2016
PENNSYLVANIA EQUESTRIAN
By Suzanne Bush
Eight months after Gover-
nor Wolf signed Pennsylvania’s
landmark racing reform legisla-
tion into law, he signed a revision
of that law correcting what was
essentially a monumental typo.
In February there were hand-
shakes all around as horseracing
industry leaders, legislators and
stakeholders surrounded Wolf for
the ceremonial signing of HB941.
Just days later, it became clear
that somewhere between the time
Racehorse Breeders Awards Are Flowing Again
everyone agreed on the bill’s
wording and the time Wolf’s pen
hit the paper, breeders’ awards
had been eliminated for all but
the owners of horses sired in
Pennsylvania. Poof! No more
smiles.
Industry leaders said they no-
tified legislators and Department
of Agriculture officials of the
problem within hours of the bill’s
signing. But the Department of
Agriculture officials insisted that
nobody from the racing indus-
try raised the issue for at least a
month. Nonetheless, everyone
agreed that mistakes were made
and the wording should be fixed
tout de suite
.
The machinery of Pennsyl-
vania’s legislature is not built
for speed. Rather, the pace is
more deliberate. By the time
the forces necessary to fix the
problems with the legislation
had been assembled, it was time
for legislative recesses. Months
went by. Seasons changed.
Finally, everyone was back in
Harrisburg the end of Septem-
ber. That would be just weeks
ahead of the election. Compli-
cations piled up like firewood
after a hurricane.
In the eight months that
stakeholders waited for the cor-
rected bill to be signed, breeders’
awards were locked away, and
the state’s horse breeders were
forced to find ways to pay bills,
maintain their farms, and ensure
that their horses were fed and
housed. The accumulation of mil-
lions of dollars meant to incentiv-
ize the state’s racing industry sat
untouched, out of the reach of the
people who needed the money.
Brian Sanfratello, Executive
Secretary of Pennsylvania Horse
Breeders Association (PHBA),
said that financial stress for many
horse breeders was severe.
As the legislature plowed
through all the bills that needed
to be addressed before the end
of the session, things were touch
and go. But on October 28, the
reform that everyone celebrated
in February, was corrected at last.
The backlog of millions of dollars
in awards finally began flowing
to breeders.
The focus now is letting
go of the last eight contentious
months. Sanfratello says that
“everyone’s on the same page
now—the Senate, the House, the
Department of Agriculture and
the Governor,” and looking to the
future.
These foals have no fear of going hungry now that legislation has
enabled money, untouchable since February, to begin flowing to
state racehorse breeders.
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