Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kentucky Rally Update

The horse industry in Kentucky isn't ready to go down without a fight!! A snippet from tonight's packed rally at Keeneland from and Tom LaMarra:

Kentucky Rally: 'Revolution Starts Tonight'

It turned into a raucous bipartisan political rally with more than 25 legislators who support the horse industry in attendance. Keeneland lobbyist Judy Taylor said she simply dropped off invitations at their offices, and they showed up in force only hours after a special session of the General Assembly had concluded.

The legislation to authorize video lottery terminals at the state’s racetracks died June 22 in a Republican-heavy Senate committee. Sen. Tom Buford, the only Republican that voted to send the measure to the Senate floor, received a standing ovation during the rally.

The bill had bipartisan support in the House, which it passed on a 52-45 vote. Legislators and racing industry officials said the measure had the votes—Republican and Democrat—in the Senate, but never had a chance to get there.

“This is not a partisan issue,” said Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who attended the rally with his wife, Jane. “In the Senate, it’s not a partisan issue, but it takes on a partisan twinge. We won’t know (the outcome) because they were afraid to vote. I believe it would have passed the Kentucky Senate.

“There is one of two things you can do. You can change the senators’ minds, or you can change some of the senators. Let’s get this done.”

And further...

Democratic Sen. Ed Worley, who supported the bill, blasted the Senate as it wrapped up business during the special session. In a video shown during the rally, Worley said the Senate used a “smokescreen”—an alternative plan to generate purse money by taxing the lottery and pari-mutuel wagers—to blame failure of the bill on the governor.

The VLT bill, Worley said, was “killed and declared dead before it arrived. The majority of the members in the Senate would have liked to vote.”

During the rally, Worley said the sale of Thoroughbred horses in Kentucky’s number one cash crop, and the industry deserves legislative attention. “If they vote against the horse industry, you need to remember them on Election Day,” he said.

KEEP executive director Patrick Neely said each member of the Senate received about 5,000 e-mails over the weekend urging them to vote on the VLT bill. KEEP also collected about 12,000 signatures on a petition.

Neely said in the next few months, town hall meetings will be held around the state to lobby support for the gaming plan and the horse industry. Overall, he said the special session was a major success even though the bill failed to get a full Senate vote.

“They have heard our voice in Frankfort,” Neely said.

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