Martin: Federal Funding Would Lessen HISA Hit On Industry - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Martin: Federal Funding Would Lessen HISA Hit On Industry

In an interview Wednesday morning with Steve Byk on Sirius Satellite Radio, RCI President Ed Martin challenged the Thoroughbred racing industry to press Senator Mitch McConnell to include a $50,000,000 federal appropriation during the upcoming “lame duck” congressional session as a way to help launch HISA's anti-doping program and prevent substantial new regulatory costs on racetracks and horsemen.

Martin, a former US Senate aide in his younger years, said he was surprised McConnell didn't provide any funding for HISA in the $1.4 Trillion dollar COVID Bill that empowered the newly created not for profit to regulate safety and doping matters in Thoroughbred racing.

“There was a ton of money in that bill for all sorts of things but not one penny for horseracing,” Martin said. “Not a dime.”

The bill that McConnell helped push through as the then Majority Leader included, among other things:

    • $20 billion for new Economic Injury Disaster Loan Grants for businesses in low-income communities.
    • $15 billion in funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.
    • $3.5 billion for continued Small Business Administration debt relief payments.
    • $2 billion for enhancements to Small Business Administration programs.

“It would seem to me that those who advocated for the legislation missed a golden opportunity to make sure that HISA would not prove too costly for an industry and sport struggling to compete,” he said. “Capitol Hill was talking billions for this and billions for that. Having observed and been a fan of Senator McConnell over the years, I am sure he could have found a way to slip $50 million in somewhere. It's not too late, but the curtain is going up on this show.”

Byk asked Martin if Congress might delay HISA implementation as some have proposed.

“I am assuming this starts on time, but if tracks or owners don't like this new bill, they should press Senator McConnell and their Congressmen to put some money behind this,” he said.

“No doubt Senator McConnell cares about horse racing. This was his federal initiative and it's time to put some money behind it. The Congress has taken this responsibility away from the states and given it to a newly created not for profit along with unlimited taxing authority. $73 million is the bill they came up with. Now it's time to support what he created,” Martin said.

Martin predicted that only a few states would actually be in a position to help HISA by paying the assessments. Under HISA's funding scheme, the costs are imposed on racetracks to pay and determine payment details.

“If the tracks and owners don't like the bills that are coming, now is the time to be heard on Capitol Hill,” he concluded.

Martin said that since Breeders Cup will take place in Kentucky in a few weeks, Senator McConnell might attend and it would be an opportunity for prominent people in the industry to press him to put money behind this.

“I would hope he would not turn his back on such requests,” he said.

Paulick Report Icon

Receive daily headlines, breaking news alerts, promotions, and much more!

Become An Insider

Support our journalism and access bonus content on our Patreon stream

Learn More