© Reuters. TOP PHOTO: US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks at a press conference after the weekly Republican caucus luncheon at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, November 29, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger/Photo File
By Rory Carroll
(Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is seeking legislation to make horse racing safer after an appeals court last month ruled it unconstitutional, a source familiar with the negotiations told Reuters.
The changes to the law, which would give greater control to the agency responsible for writing and enforcing safety regulations, could be included in a year-long spending bill, known as an omnibus, that could be passed later this month.
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) was created by Congress in 2020 to amend state and federal laws and regulations following a series of leading horse racing incidents and deaths that have rocked the industry.
But the law was ruled unconstitutional by a Louisiana state court, which said the state did not oversee the new government in a lawsuit filed by various horse racing organizations and other states.
McConnell, who comes from a fast-moving state in Kentucky, was instrumental in getting the law passed and will seek changes to improve HISA oversight of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a source who spoke directly to the lawmaker.
The source asked not to be identified to speak freely about the discussions. McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.
If the amendment is approved as part of the spending bill, proponents of the bill say there will be no disruption to the implementation of HISA regulations, including the implementation of its drug abuse prevention and control program next month.
Supporters say the law is necessary to protect horses, racers and the sport as a whole, which they say could be out of favor with the public forever if horses continue to die in training and competition.
Critics argue that HISA will replace international regulatory agencies and allow new capital to be created in the industry.
Although it has not been confirmed, McConnell told the source that there is political will in the Senate to pass all the spending for the year as the two key members of the Appropriations Committee – Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and ranking member Richard Shelby (R -Alabama). ) – is set to retire and wants to walk away with the bill.