Monday, April 11, 2011

Race Track Renewal Funds & The Future of Bowie

Via The Equiery:

There are now only 3 days left, as the 2011 Maryland General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on Monday, April 11.
In March, we reported on the progress of a bill of tremendous interest to anyone associated in any way with racing in Maryland, be they horsemen, track owners, vets, farriers, breeders or fans: theRace Track Renewal Fund. The general media has referred to this bill as “another race subsidy,” which is rather unfair, as all this bill does is to allow certain slot funds (which are currently, by law, allocated to race track capital improvements) to be used (under limited and certain circumstances) for track operating costs.
HB 1036 and SB 848 are considered “Governor’s bills,” as they were submitted, respectively, by the Speaker of the House and the Speaker of the Senate at the request of the administration – and it is important for Equiery readers to understand that this legislation has the full support of the Governor, as well as a wide variety of racing interests.
On March 26, the House passed a heavily amended version of the bill. The amendments include creating an oversight commission on racing (yes, dear readers, there already is an oversight commission on racing, created by law, and called “The Maryland Racing Commission;” this amendment would provide another layer of oversight, with this commission made up of elected officials who would review business plans…hmmm) and prohibiting the tracks from using any of the funds to pay for lobbying or litigation (that sounds reasonable, under the circumstances), and insures that the Maryland State Fair (a.k.a. Timonium) would also get a few bucks (when submitting legislations, everyone always seems to forget that Timonium is a race track too!). The amendments also require that the tracks submit five year business plans for profitability, and that certainly – on the surface – sounds reasonable.
HB 1036 passed 94-39 and crossed over to the Senate in the nick of time; it was heard in Senate Budget & Taxation on March 30, and there has been no action since then…but the race isn’t over yet!  They’ve turned for home, and the wire is in sight…
Meanwhile, the other racing bill that still seems to have legs is SB 491, which would authorize the owner of the Bowie Race Course Training Center (that would be the Maryland Jockey Club, which is still owned by MI Development and Penn National) to convey the property associated with the training center to the State, Prince George’s County, or the City of Bowie. Originally, this bill would have mandated that the Training Center could only go to the State as preserved land under Program Open Space, but a whole-lotta people had a whole-lotta problems with that, and so the bill was amended to eliminate that provision and to allow the opportunity for the land to go to PG County or Bowie.  The amendments also clarify that, upon transfer of ownership to one of the above said public entities, said public entity has no legal obligation to continue to run the facility as a Thoroughbred training facility.
The Senate unanimously passed the bill on March 25, and the House Ways & Means gave it a favorable report on Wed. April 6, so the bill has turned for home and it is “down the stretch they come.”
That’s all we’ve got, folks. If you have any thoughts or comments you would like to share, you may post them below in the comments field or e-mail them to

Friday, April 8, 2011

Government Shutdown Could Impact Horse Industry

Via The Equiery:

The American Horse Council reports at this time Congress has failed to come to an agreement regarding a bill to fund the government for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year.  The current Continuing Resolution funding the government is set to expire at midnight tonight.  If an agreement is not reached by that time non-essential government operations, many that impact the horse industry and equestrians, could cease.  Should a shutdown occur, it could impact the U.S Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) response to disease outbreaks, procedures for the import and export of horses, recreation on federal land, and temporary worker programs. At this time, government agencies are still working on their shutdown plans and determining essential and non-essential operations.
One of the cornerstones of the U.S. horse industry includes the import and export of domestic and foreign horses on both a permanent and temporary basis.  The horse industry relies on USDA to maintain and operate import, export, and quarantine facilities for horses traveling into and out of the U.S.  It is unclear at this time whether USDA will deem all, part, or none of these import, export, and quarantine services to be essential and therefore continue to operate in the event of a government shutdown.
USDA is also responsible for the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA), and because the HPA is related to law enforcement activities it is likely a significant part of USDA’s services under the HPA will continue in some fashion.
Foreign animal disease (FAD) diagnosticians and incident command system (ICS) teams will be available on a case-by-case basis to respond to equine disease outbreaks and emergency response incidents should they occur.
For a complete list of USDA shutdown contingency plans, please visit the USDA website.
Many equestrians are dependent on federal land for recreational opportunities.  In the event of a government shutdown, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management will close and secure park, refuge and visitor facilities on public lands.  National Forest recreation sites across the U.S., which require a government employee to stay open, would also be closed to the public.
Temporary Worker Programs 

The horse industry relies on many semi-skilled and entry-level foreign workers provided by the H-2A temporary agricultural worker and H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker programs for many of the employment needs of the horse industry.  A government shutdown could halt the processing of applications for both the H-2A and H-2B programs and delay or prevent many employers in the horse industry from obtaining workers when they are needed.
At this time, it is not certain the government will shutdown.  If a shutdown does occur it could last as little as a few hours with little impact on the industry or last several weeks with greater consequences.
If you have any questions please contact the AHC.

1099 Reporting Requirement Headed for Repeal

Via The Equiery:

The American Horse Council reports that on Monday, April 5, 2011, the U.S. Senate passed a repeal of the new 1099 reporting requirement. The House approved the same 1099 repeal bill (H.R 4), introduced by Congressman Lungren (R-CA), earlier this year. The President is expected to sign the bill into law in the next several days.  This will head off an increase in tax related paper work for horse businesses in 2012.
The 1099 paperwork mandate was a provision of the health care bill passed last year that would have imposed burdensome new tax reporting requirements on every business in the U.S., including those in the horse industry, beginning in 2012.
The bill repeals only the new broader reporting requirements.  Businesses will still have to send 1099s to independent contractors as current law requires.
The AHC supported repeal of the new 1099 reporting requirement.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (”Health Care Bill”) that was signed into law last year included a provision broadly-expanding 1099 IRS form reporting requirements starting in 2012.  Current law requires 1099s to be sent to any independent contractor that receives $600 or more from a business in a year.  The new provision would have required, starting in 2012, that 1099s be sent not only to independent contractors but also to any individual or corporation from whom a business purchased a total of $600 or more in goods or services in any given year.
Repeal of the new 1099 requirement has had Presidential and bipartisan Congressional support once its full impact on businesses was realized.
Learn more at the American Horse Council!