Five Racing-Related Bills Filed in Texas Legislature

The bills, which could benefit the state's horse racing industry, were filed last week.

Texas Horsemen's Partnership

Several bills that could be beneficial to the Texas racing industry have been filed in the state legislature.

The Texas Horsemen’s Partnership is reporting that five bills were filed with the Texas Legislature last week that could benefit the state's horse racing industry.

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R) has filed three bills in the Senate:

•SB 1971 (co-authored by Sen. Dawn Buckingham [R]) - Would create a purse matching fund from the state’s general revenue fund that is expected to increase purses by $25 million. Committee substitute language is expected to clarify specifics.
•SB 1972 - Would shift Accredited Texas-Bred funds from the Texas Racing Commission’s budget and establish an escrow account for the money.
•SB 1973 - Would utilize existing state tax revenue on simulcast wagers that currently goes to the Texas general revenue fund in order to help pay the costs of operating the Texas Racing Commission. Presently, all of the costs of operating the Commission are borne by the racing industry through track and occupational license fees.

Rep. John Kuempel (R) of Seguin, described by the THP as "a longtime friend of the Texas racing industry," has filed two bills in the House of Representatives. Kuempel is chairman of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee. The House bills are:

•HB 3925 - Would legalize account wagering on Texas racing and create mechanisms for the Texas Racing Commission to license and regulate account wagering operators.
•HB 3926 - Would authorize purpose-driven pari-mutuel wagering at the 10 Texas facilities currently licensed to conduct live or simulcast racing. Purpose-driven pari-mutuel wagering would provide funding for enhanced bulletproof vests and body armor for all peace officers in Texas, funding to increase death benefits for the spouses and families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, and donor-directed funding for 501(c)(3) charitable organizations operating in Texas. It would also increase purse money available for racing in Texas.

According to THP, thee first step for each of the bills would be to obtain a committee hearing by the appropriate committee of the Senate or House of Representatives. At each hearing, the committee in question will decide whether or not to forward that bill on to be heard and debated on the floor of the Senate or House, respectively. During this period, the committee can also substitute new bill language, which is likely to happen with some of these bills to clarify certain points.

Once a bill has been forwarded on to the House or Senate, each chamber has different rules as to how it advances for approval or fails. Bills can also be amended with changes during this process.

Any Senate bills that receive Senate approval would then be sent to the House of Representatives seeking approval. Any House bills that receive House approval would then be sent to the Senate seeking approval. If there are any differences between the versions passed in the Senate and the House, they must be reconciled before the bill is enrolled and signed by the Lt. Governor in the presence of the Senate and the Speaker of the House in the presence of the House of Representatives.

The successful bills are then sent to the Governor to sign, not sign, or veto. A Governor’s veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the Senate and House. A bill that is not signed by the Governor but is not vetoed eventually automatically becomes law.

"It can be a long and arduous process to get a bill passed by the Texas Legislative," the THP news release said. "However, this is the first time in many years that so many beneficial bills have been filed on behalf of the Texas racing industry. We have every reason to hope some or all of the bills will be successful if we all work together. And that means we will be periodically asking for your help - starting today."

The THP is asking industry stakeholders to send letters or e-mails to the following bill sponsors:

The Honorable Lois Kolkhorst
PO Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
To email Sen. Kolkhorst, use the form here

The Honorable Dawn Buckingham
PO Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
To email Dr. Buckingham, use the form here

Rep. John Kuempel
Room E2.422
PO Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
To email him, use the form here

"It is important for our industry to let Sen. Kolkhorst, Sen. Buckingham, and Rep. Kuempel know how much we appreciate their support of a better future for the Texas racing industry," the THP news release said. "The Texas Horsemen’s Partnership will continue to keep you informed of any progress regarding the bills. And as any committee hearings are set, we will be asking for your help contacting the committee members asking for their support of our bills. Likewise, for any bills that receive committee approval, we will be asking you to reach out to your local legislators encouraging them to support those bills. We look forward to working with you all this spring as we try to secure a better future for the Texas racing industry."

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