|Texas Racing Industry Still Hopeful for
Racing industry leaders are still optimistic about the
opportunity to introduce and pass legislation that will allow the state's
existing pari-mutuel licensees to operate video lottery terminals (VLTs).
In recent press releases, both Governor Rick Perry and Lt. Governor David
Dewhurst are stating that they want another special session to address
the issues of public school financing and property taxes. Both leaders
indicated that a session could be called in July or August, thereby giving
lawmakers enough time to pass legislation and place any constitutional
amendments on the November ballot.
Two legislative working groups have been formed to study the issues
of education reform and how to finance those needs while finding a way
to lower Texas property taxes. Each committee is comprised of six members
from the House of Representatives and six members from the Senate. The
committee responsible for finding revenue sources has acknowledged that
allowing VLTs at racetracks would generate a substantial amount of money
to the state. The committee has not reached any conclusions at this point,
but many believe that progress is being made in an attempt to reach a
consensus among legislators.
Meanwhile, the Texas Racing Agri-industry Council (TRAC) has been busy
preparing public and political campaign strategies. The group, which is
comprised of all segments of the Texas pari-mutuel industry, is focusing
on grass roots programs, legislator education of our issues, and public
"We are optimistic that racing will get another opportunity to
pass legislation that will put Texas racing on par with the best tracks
in the country," stated Tommy J. Azopardi, executive director of
the Texas Horsemen's Partnership. Azopardi continued, "It is great
to see the cooperative effort put forth by everyone in our industry. We
are all aware of the challenges before us if we are not successful, and
everyone is committed to a legislative victory."
The legislative process is complex and any campaign requires a significant
commitment of resources. In order to develop the materials necessary and
hire the talent needed, we must raise money from our membership, explained
The Texas Horsemen's Partnership has worked to establish a Political
Action fund called the Texas Horsemen's PAC. Horsemen can make one-time
or sustaining contributions directly to the fund, or they can sign check-off
cards that authorize the horsemen's bookkeeper at each Texas racetrack
to deduct a certain amount of money each time they start a horse and/or
win a race. To get more details on this program, please call the Austin
office of the Texas Horsemen's Partnership at (512) 467-9799 or stop by
any bookkeeper's office at the racetrack.
Together we can win this fight!