PRESS RELEASE

 AUSTIN (May 01, 2014) – Texas Horse Organizations for Racing, Showing and Eventing (Texas HORSE) has partnered with the Association of Texas Soil & Water Conservation Districts (ATSWCD), Texas Wildlife Association, and Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board to highlight the important connection between voluntary land stewardship and sustaining water availability. The statewide campaign, “Land Stewardship: Providing Water for Texans,” is the theme of this year’s Soil & Water Stewardship Week, which is held April 27-May 4.

“This campaign aims to bring more awareness and support to voluntary land stewardship, because the way we manage our resources on private lands directly impacts the water resources available for public consumption,” said Jacquelyn Rich, DVM. “Texas HORSE is proud to partner with ATSWCD to bring more support to voluntary land stewardship.”

Effective land stewardship increases the ability of open land to absorb rainfall, replenish aquifers, and ensure that water drains slowly and steadily into springs, streams, rivers and lakes – reducing run-off and helping to prevent flooding. Voluntary stewardship practices include things such as prescribed grazing management by ranchers, the use of cover crops by farmers, wildlife habitat enhancement, and the targeted removal of invasive brush species.

“Voluntary land stewardship is an efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable way to ‘create’ more water for homes, businesses, recreation, agriculture, and wildlife,” said Johnny Ussery, chair of the stewardship committee for the ATSWCD.

Soil and water conservation performed in urban areas can also help supplement land stewardship efforts in rural ones.

“Urban Texans can become involved by practicing effective land stewardship at home, and in their neighborhoods, schools, and businesses,” Ussery said. “Small efforts, such as using plants in our home landscaping that require little water, can add up to major water conservation when practiced by millions of people across the state.”

Partnering organizations in the “Land Stewardship: Providing Water for Texans” public awareness campaign include Ducks Unlimited, the Nature Conservancy of Texas, Texas A&M AgriLife’s Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas Agricultural Land Trust, Texas Department of Agriculture, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Texas Coalition Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, Texas Association of Dairymen, South Texans’ Property Rights Association, Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas, South Texas Cotton and Grain Association, Texas Forestry Association, Texas HORSE, Texas Deer Association, Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., Texas Poultry Federation, Texas Corn Producers, Texas Wheat Producers Board and Association, Taking Care of Texas, Trinity Waters, Texas Pork Producers, and Quail Coalition.

For more information on “Land Stewardship: Providing Water for Texans,” please visit

www.tsswcb.texas.gov.

 

Texas H.O.R.S.E. – Horse Organizations for Racing, Showing and Eventing comprises the largest group of horse organizations in Texas united to introduce and pass legislation to help Texas regain its leadership position within the horse industry.

 

www.texashorseweb.com

 

 | Categories: Breaking News, News, Uncategorized |
April 1, 2013

‘Retama Park to the Capitol’ to lobby Texas legislators for video slot machines at horse tracks

Author: Mariza Mendoza, Reporter, mzmendoza@ksat.com

SAN ANTONIO – A bus full of people is heading to Austin on Tuesday morning to support horse racing and increased gambling opportunities in Texas.

The group is called ‘Retama Park to the Capitol’. Lobbying legislators for video lottery machines, also known as slots at the horse tracks, will be on the group’s agenda.

Some people think it’s a great idea if gambling profits go to good use.

“It would be great if it goes toward education and help buy books and maybe pay for teachers,” said Don Nelson, who is from Maryland.

“The kids need a lot of help. A lot of these programs, music programs, they’re cutting them and they don’t know how good it’s benefitting the kids,” said San Antonian Patricia Bass.

Others believe legalizing video gambling would just do more harm than good.

“There’s lots of venues where you can throw your money away. One more venue to throw your money away, I don’t think we need that,” said Jay Gitter.

“I find it boring and not worth throwing your money at and losing,” said Ray George. “I don’t think it would help the state.”

Retama Park Race Track recently went into the hands of a casino company on the gamble that legislation of this type will pass this year.

AUSTIN –  Local chambers of commerce in cities across Texas have announced their support for giving Texas voters the opportunity to decide on casino-style gaming at the ballot box.”Chambers representing more than 15,000 business owners recognize Texas is hemorrhaging money to neighboring states because we have not allowed the people of Texas to vote on casino-style gaming,” said John T. Montford, chair for Let Texas Decide. “$2.5 billion in spent annually in Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico by Texans which helps pay for their roads, schools and hospitals. It’s time to let Texans decide whether they want to keep those dollars and jobs in Texas.”

In addition to receiving the support of the state’s leading business organization – the Texas Association of Business – a gaming referendum is also supported by various local chambers of commerce, including: the Harlingen Chamber, the Houston Hispanic Chamber, the Houston Intercontinental Chamber of Commerce, the Houston Northwest Chamber, the Jasper-Lake Sam Rayburn Area Chamber, the Texas City La-Marque Chamber, the Katy Area Chamber, the North San Antonio Chamber, the Randolph Metrocom Chamber, and the Texas City-La Marque Chamber of Commerce. (For a full list of current supporters, visit www.lettexansdecide.com)

“Business knows the expansion of gaming will be a boon for the economy, creating 75,000 Texas jobs and $8.5 billion in annual economic growth,” said Montford. “This is about jobs, growth and freedom. Let’s keep Texans gaming in Texas, not building Oklahoma’s future infrastructure.”

“It is better to regulate gaming and capture the revenue for the benefit of taxpayers than to turn a blind eye to existing illegal gaming operations while forcing Texans to take their entertainment dollars out of state,” said Montford.

Let Texans Decide is dedicated to providing the citizens of Texas the opportunity to vote on the expansion of gaming in Texas through the passage of a constitutional amendment in the Texas Legislature. This effort has the support of chamber organizations and business leaders across Texas in addition to leaders in the gaming industry.

 | Categories: Breaking News, News |

by Steve Blow, Dallas News

Normally I don’t like to quibble with letters to the editor. That’s where readers get their say, and I’m all for it.

But on the other hand, I hate to see the spread of bad information, especially on matters of public policy. Good decisions rest on good data.

So I cringed to read a letter last week that just didn’t have the ring of truth. I did a little research and now let me set the record straight: Vicksburg has not turned into a zombie wasteland.

In the letter, a Lavon resident wrote: “Vicksburg, Miss., used to be one of my favorite small cities in America; tons of Southern charm. It all changed when riverboat casinos came to town.

“Last time I stopped there, the casinos had been there just less than a year, but I knew something wasn’t quite right; lots of cold stares, if anyone looked at me at all.”

He went on to say that in a causal chat, a local utility worker told him service disconnections and crime “had gone through the roof” in Vicksburg.

Well, it’s hard to quantify “cold stares.” The writer makes a visit to Vicksburg sound like an episode of The Walking Dead. But crime and utility disconnects are easy to count. And officials in Vicksburg tell me neither went up when casinos opened there almost 20 years ago now.

Nicole Bradshaw is a spokeswoman for the electric utility Entergy. She said company analysts examined service disconnections and late payments after the arrival of casinos in both Vicksburg and Tunica.

“They saw no measurable adverse effect,” Bradshaw said. And she said disconnections in Vicksburg remain at the same level as the rest of the state.

I heard the same story from Tammye Christmas, manager of Vicksburg’s city-owned gas and water utilities. She has been with the department 28 years. “The casinos had no impact on disconnects or late payments here,” she said.

Ditto on crime, said Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong. He has worked in law enforcement around Vicksburg for almost 30 years and saw no change from the casinos.

This all comes up, of course, because the Texas Legislature is back in session. There is talk again of bringing casinos to Texas.

And if some are opposed, that’s fine. But we sure shouldn’t decide the matter based on urban legends and offhand conversations.

Gambling is one area where I’m all in favor of Texas legislators passing the buck. Pass it to us, the people of Texas. Just call a statewide vote on the matter and let Texans have their say.

And in the process, we could have a robust debate that separates fact from fiction about the impact of casinos, both pro and con.

Personally, I don’t much care for casinos. As a practical matter, I just can’t see Texans continuing to subsidize the taxpayers of Oklahoma, Louisiana and Nevada in such a generous way. We could sure use those jobs and taxes right here.

If a compelling case can be made that casinos are bad, I’m eager to hear it and would vote accordingly.

But here’s what I see. Thirty years ago, there were two states with casinos, Nevada and New Jersey. Today, there are 38 states with casino gambling. Twenty-four came through state approval. The rest have American Indian casinos.

Holly Wetzel of the American Gaming Association said the list of casino states grows by one or two almost every year. I asked her if experience has led any states with casinos to outlaw them.

“Nope,” she said. In fact, in a survey conducted last year, a whopping 83 percent of local political officials and community leaders in those states called the arrival of casinos an overall positive thing, she said.

Legislators, allow us a vote. More importantly, allow us a debate based on facts.

 | Categories: Breaking News, News, Quick Links |

The Board of Directors of Texas H.O.R.S.E has hired horse racing industry executive Dan Fick of Granbury, Texas to the position of executive director effective January 1, 2013. The current executive director Val Clark is leaving Texas H.O.R.S.E.  to pursue other career opportunities, and will be working closely with Dan to facilitate an efficient transition. During her  3 ½  year tenure at Texas H.O.R.S.E. since it’s inception, Ms. Clark has successfully positioned and effectively established Texas H.O.R.S.E. as the spokesperson and advocate for the horse industry in Texas, especially before the state government in Austin.

Dan Fick has been an executive administrator in the horse industry for 30 years, having served as the American Quarter Horse Association Executive Director of Racing from 1984-2003; the Executive Director for The Thoroughbred Jockey Club from 2003-2009; and the Director of Racing at Remington Park in Oklahoma City from 2011-2012.

“I look forward to working with all aspects of the horse industry to promote the best interests of Texas horsemen and women, and to substantially improve and expand their opportunities to breed, race, show and enjoy their horses in Texas.”

Texas HORSE is a non-profit association formed to preserve the $5.2 billion Texas Horse Industry which has been the #1 state in horses and horse enthusiasts in the U.S.  The Texas HORSE board of directors consists of one representative from each of the eight founding Texas based horse organizations and one director at large. The immediate goal of Texas H.O.R.S.E. is to promote the passage of legislation in Austin to provide a competitive balance in this region to reverse the trend of Texas horse breeders and owners going to surrounding states to breed, race and show their horses. The Texas horse industry is losing horses, jobs, and money to neighboring states because their governments have provided better opportunities to Texas horsemen and women than are available at home in Texas. These opportunities exist only because surrounding states offer expanded gaming programs at their racetracks, which provide funds for increased purses and equine industry stimulation programs.

For more information about Texas H.O.R.S.E., contact Val Clark at 512-731-4637 and Dan Fick at 817-845-2917, and go to www.texas-horse.com or  www.texashorseweb.com.

 | Categories: Breaking News, News |

Gives Texas voters the right to decide

 

o   HJR 111 / SJR 33 requires constitutional amendment; election November 2011

o   Requires enabling statutes passed in 82nd Regular Session (HB 2111 / SB 1118)

Where? 

 

o   13 licensed Texas racetracks and 3 federally recognized tribes (see map)

o   Gaming machines must be in facility at same location as racetrack

o   ONLY tracks licensed as of Jan. 1, 2011 eligible for VLT licenses

o   Does not expand the footprint of gambling

 

Administration ~  Texas Lottery  Commission

 

o   Central system controls ALL machines; rigorous security required at all track locations

o   VLT license required; applied for and granted by Lottery Commission

o   Criminal background checks of licensees

o   Audits and stringent financial controls required

Distribution of net revenue (total amount wagered minus prizes paid to players)

 

o   30% to state

o   70% to tracks, with 12% allocated to horse or greyhound  industry. This is paid directly by the tracks to the responsible organizations to grow their industries. The balance of 58% is retained by the track owner.

State’s share of revenues; (based on fiscal note HB 2111 —)

 

o   $ 548.2 million next biennium;  $ 498.1 million available for budget

o   Above includes $ 225 million of up-front license fees, payable Sept 1, 2011

o   $ 10 million annually for treatment of compulsive gamblers and promotion of responsible gaming

o   $ 10 million annually for criminal justice planning fund of Governor’s office for use in prosecuting gambling offenses

o   $ 1 billion second biennium; $ 960 million available for budget

o   Continual growth; $ 713.4 million year five ($ 693 million available for budget)

Live Racing 

 

o   Requires ALL  un-built tracks to initiate live racing within two years

o   existing tracks must continue to offer live racing annually in order to keep VLT license

NOTES

Why?

o   Reverse the majority of outflow of Texas dollars to gaming facilities in Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma : those Texas dollars are responsible for over $2.5 billion in revenues upon which those states levy gaming taxes

o   Recapture significant associated accompanying expenditures (hotels, fuel, dining, etc)

o   Give the Texas racing industry the tools, at no cost to the state, that the governments of our neighboring states have given their industries;  gaming in those states has devastated the Texas racing industry

o   Create significant new revenues, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars in gaming taxes annually, available to the Texas Legislature for strengthening the state’s budget

o   Create billions of dollars in new economic impact annually and tens of thousands of jobs in both development and operation  of VLT facilities, racing operations, and ancillary benefits related to tourism

o   Create billions of dollars in new economic impact annually and tens of thousands of jobs in the equine agricultural sector

Revenue Division   (see attached comparison sheet)

o   Formula in HB 2111 and SB 1118 is fair and comparable with other states where slot machine gaming at racetracks has been successfully implemented

o   State’s share

§  Texas                            30%

§  Louisiana                     15.17%

§  Oklahoma                   16.57%

§  New Mexico              26.25%

o   Horse Industry’s share

§  Texas                            12%

§  Louisiana                     18%

§  Oklahoma                   26.46%

§  New Mexico              20%

o   Track’s share

§  Texas                            58%

§  Louisiana                     66.83%

§  Oklahoma                   56.96%

§  New Mexico              53.75%

*Sources:  Louisiana Gaming Control Board annual report; Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector’s Office annual report; New Mexico Gaming Control Board annual report

**NOTE:  Division of revenue at greyhound racetracks in Texas identical as that above at horse racetracks.  Greyhound racing does not exist in our three neighboring states.

Performance Horse Development Fund (PHDF)

o   Funding derived from the 12% share to the Texas horse industry

o   PHDF receives 1/12 of the 12%

o   Will be utilized by the American Quarter Horse Assn, American Paint Horse Assn, and the National Cutting Horse Assn  (these three national associations are headquartered in Texas, and have very large numbers of Texas members)

o   Funds will be restricted to events and programs conducted IN TEXAS ONLY

o   20% of these funds will be administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture, for segments of the horse industry, IN TEXAS ONLY, who are unable to benefit from programs of the three above associations (eg, 4-H, FFA,  local rodeos, trail riding, etc)

o   Ensures potential of funds benefitting all 254 counties in Texas

o   Texas horse industry is  willing and able to assist TDA in developing its programs to maximize positive impact on those targeted segments of the horse industry

 | Categories: Breaking News |