July 12, 2016
Tom LaMarra, Blood-Horse

The Pennsylvania Senate July 11 passed a bill that in part restores earlier language that governs the state Thoroughbred breeding fund.

The measure was sent to the House of Representatives and assigned to the House Rules Committee. The House, by a 193-2 vote June 30, approved an amended version of the bill that would give breeders a larger percentage—50% and 30%, respectively—of awards money for Pennsylvania-sired and -bred horses that finish first, second, or third in any race in the state.

The Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee July 11 amended the bill yet again to revert to its original language, which gives breeders 30% for Pennsylvania-sired horses and 20% for Pennsylvania-bred horses sired out of state.

The Senate version also directs the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, which falls under the state Department of Agriculture, to continue contracting with the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association to oversee the breeding fund. The House version of the bill changed the language to allow the racing commission to contract with any entity it chooses.

The bill that now sits in the House Rules Committee—a meeting of which was scheduled for late afternoon July 12—includes new, unrelated provisions regarding governance of waste disposal and water standards under the Department of Environmental Protection as well as a mandate that correctional facilities can’t be closed without public hearings.

A few members of the Senate, before its 41-7 vote July 11, voiced support for the prison provision but made no mention of the breeding fund language changes.

A window to alter the breeding fund splits opened because language in an omnibus horseracing reform bill signed into law in late February was deemed problematic by the Department of Agriculture. Thus, awards from the breeding fund were suspended in late March; the department has indicated no payments can be made until the General Assembly passes, and Gov. Tom Wolf signs, new legislation.