Webb: Legislators had no warning on medication reform vote

by | 08.30.2012 | 1:00pm
State Capitol bldg., Frankfort, Ky.

Turns out the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and supporters of medication regulation reform in Kentucky weren't the only ones blind-sided on Monday when the state legislature's Licensing and Occupations Committee rejected rules designed to change how Lasix is administered on race-day, eliminate the use of adjunct bleeder medication, and lower the permitted threshold for phenylbutazone. Members of the committee were blind-sided, too, since a vote on the issue was not on the agenda for the meeting.

The proposed rules changes, developed by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission earlier this year, were rejected by a 19-1 vote of the legislative committee, with four members not voting. Republican Sen. Damon Thayer was the only member to support the rules changes.

The maneuver to bring the regulations up for a surprise vote was orchestrated by the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. The committee chairman, Democratic Rep. Dennis Keene, met recently with representatives of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and said he saw no problems with the regulations, sources told the Paulick Report.

Democratic Sen. Robin Webb, a horse owner and member of the Horse Farming Subcommittee and Agriculture Committee representing Kentucky's 18th district, said members of the Licensing and Occupations Committee were not told in advance the issue would be discussed at Monday's meeting.

In a letter responding to a statement from The Jockey Club and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, Webb, who made the motion to reject the new regulations, said the language and process surrounding the issue both were “deficient.”

Webb wrote: “Since I made the motion to deem the regulation deficient, I will respond.

“For the record, I also deem the process deficient. The regulation is important on many levels, I agree.  It is so important that I would have liked to have known that same was on the agenda, that it was to be voted on and further, that I would have time to read it, digest it, hear testimony from both sides of the issue and make an informed decision on same.  I know that my colleagues felt the same way, the number of pass votes and comments certainly lend credence to my position.

“I, like several other members, have the advantage of being a horse owner, breeder, and exhibitor.  Even though I work in a non-racing breed, I have an industry perspective. I also am a lawyer, and I feel that gives me insight into interpretation and ultimate application of statutes and regulations.  The members who are not involved in the industry, as some stated, were overwhelmed with the medical and technical information presented that day on an item that was not on the agenda.

“The KRC, Governor's office, or any equine organization, made no attempt to communicate with this committee member regarding this regulation prior to its non-agenda presentation for a vote. The topic has not been vetted in our active Interim Agriculture Committee, and our Sub-Committee on Horse Farming has not even met regularly to discuss the issues of the day, including this one.  These are both committees that have subject matter jurisdiction pertaining to the horse industry.

“We are not a bureaucracy nor are we appointed, we are elected policy makers that must answer to our constituents and in so doing an informed, deliberate decision is required, or at a minimum preferred. Perhaps in the future, there will be better communication with the legislature on issues of import.

“I personally, had trouble with some language, that even the KRC agreed could have been drafted in a manner more consistent with the testimonial intent.  Further, in this political climate and animal rights agenda driven policy that affects agriculture, I make no apology in my diligence to read every statute and regulation, study and interpret data that is compiled and presented, question every agency and commission and delve into the background of every presenter/expert that presents or submits information on an issue that affects agriculture, and especially the horse industry.

“I appreciate your organizations and what they do.”

Respectfully submitted,
Senator Robin Webb

Senate District 18
Member Agriculture Committee
Member Licensing and Occupations Committee
Member Horse Farming Sub-Committee

  • Jeffgoran

    The HBPA is rife with corruption. It is time for each state to form their own benevolent organization and run away from the HBPA.

    Look at Nebraska

    Look at Louisiana

    And now Kentucky.

    Trust me every state has been manuevered by this organization. It is time for a clean break.

  • Stanley inman

    I love this tactic:
    Surprise agenda;
    which chair then labels “deficient” because
    Committee didnt have time to prepare;
    And Complains,
    “what is goin on”;
    which allows webb to kick it out of committee.
    Well played defense
    (But you don’t have the ball anymore!)

  • Thegospeltruth

    Jeffgoran.   You say the HBPA is rife with corruption and you know this how?  Louisiana had a corrupt President who is now in jail and people in LA are trying to straighten out the mess he left.  What did Nebraska do that was corrupt?  And as for the KY HBPA, they just out thought and out manuevered John Ward and his racing commission.  Does that make them corrupt?  If it wasn’t for HBPAs greedy cooperations like CDI, Penn Gaming, the Stronach Group and others would be paying horsemen peanuts for purses.

  • Lexington

    “We are not a bureaucracy nor are we appointed, we are elected policy makers that must answer to our constituents and in so doing an informed, deliberate decision is required…”

    In other words, while the KHRC can operate like a group of political clowns appointed at whim, the state legislature’s Licensing and Occupations Committee wants to at least give the appearance of being professional.

    Good for them.

  • Jimturner

    And the Jockey Club,TOBA and friends ambushed everyone last year when they demanded Gov. Be shear ban lasix without any hearings at all!

  • Pluckedduck1

    My Q concerns John Greathouse’s comment–this is all about banning lasix, correct? The rest of it would have passed if the lasix part were omitted?  Who was it that was responsible for insisting the controversial lasix ban be in this otherwise good legislation? And, what is the purpose or agenda of insisting on pushing this lasix ban every way possible in full knowledge that most of the people dealing day to day with horses are against it?

  • voiceofreason

    Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
    That says NOTHING about HORSE protection. It’s horseMEN protection, people.
    They are just doing their job. The equine athlete is irrelevant to them.

  • Concerned observer

    Facts: at the spring meet: Jan-thru Mar, Turfway Park, Kentucky, 469 different trainers started at least one horse.
    144 trainers, made less than  $1000 in 3 months.
    189 trainers made less than $2000 in 3 months
    254 trainers made less than $5000 in 3 months…55% of all HBPA voting trainers.
    These guys (experts in horse care?) each had a vote in the HBPA elections and they are deciding the future of horse racing in America.

    Most have never trained or tried to race a horse without Lasix.

    No wonder racing is in such a sad state. We have turned the future of the industry over to the stall muckers. These are honest, hard working, sincere, people but painfully lacking in the vision to lead the future marketing  of the industry.

    If you are so darned convinced that they know what to do to manage and market our sport and lead our industry….let one of them manage your personal  401K.

  • Barney Door

    Webb is a stooge of the HBPA. I think the Gov fixed his problem for him.

  • Thegospeltruth

    Dear Concerned Observer,
    Did not everyone of those “stall muckers” have a vote as well as their brilliant owners who were paying training bills on those horse that according to you barely earned any purses.  For your edification, HBPA membership is usually made up of 20% trainers and 80% owners, most of whom, unfortunately, are apathetic about getting involved.

  • Steve

    My experience with dealing with legislative committees is that they have rules, yes they can vote to waive rules, but generally they need to follow them.  If this issue was not on the agenda, and the maker of the motion agrees that the process was “deficient” why was the process allowed to go further?

    The simple action would have been to table the issue/discussion until the matter could be put on the agenda, the needed testimony taken and then voted on in an informed manner.

    I did a quick search on the committee and did not find their rules, though I would think they have them, does anyone know for sure?

    Though the news today about the Governor over-ruling the committee may make the issue moot, until the next regular session.

  • Concerned observer

    Really? Since the votes are sealed and secret how would you or we know that this is the factual voting statistic?

    My point is that the ability to train a horse does not qualify the trainer to make decisions about the public perception of the sport  nor the  marketing strategy needed by  the sport.

  • Old Timer

    He didn’t say that the voting statistic played out along those lines. Reread gospel’s comment. Mainly that owners are apathetic about getting involved.

    Sorry, but everyone who’s involved gets a say, thats how it works. If you don’t like it do what another commenter said and start a new organization, or do as Jess Jackson suggested and amend the IHA to say only “owner” not “owner or owner/trainer” as the definition of horsemen.

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