The Charles Town Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association is filing a writ of mandamus in the West Virginia Supreme Court on Monday against the WV Department of Revenue and its agencies, the Racing Commission and the Lottery Commission.
At the heart of the issue is an Interagency Agreement agreed upon by the Racing Commission on June 18, 2013 that gives many of the Racing Commission's statutory duties, including responsibility for the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing, to the Lottery Commission. Those rules govern all of thoroughbred horse racing and directly affect the livelihood of Jefferson County's horse owners and trainers.
The Interagency Agreement, which the Racing Commission authorized without first seeking the input of the WV Attorney General, also delegated many of the constitutional responsibilities of the Attorney General to in-house legal counsel at the Lottery Commission. Those duties include day to day legal advice and the correct interpretation of the Thoroughbred Rules of Racing.
“What the Racing Commission has done clearly violates the West Virginia Constitution's requirement for Separation of Powers” said the HBPA's attorney, David Hammer. “The Attorney General is a constitutional officer who has the responsibility to advise State agencies. This is a power grab by the Executive branch of State government, plain and simple.”
The writ of mandamus seeks an order from the West Virginia Supreme Court declaring the Interagency Agreement null and void. Although the WV Supreme Court is in recess, there's always a Justice assigned to monitor emergency motions. “I'm sure this writ will get the prompt attention of the Court,” said Hammer.
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