Texas Horsemen Gather at State Capitol
More than 800 Texas horsemen from across the State representing racing and non-racing horse disciplines joined together at the Texas State Capitol in Austin Thursday, March 31st to support SJR 33/ SB 1118, and HJR 111/HB 2111. This legislation would permit Texans to vote on allowing slot machines at licensed racetracks and Indian Reservations in the Lone Star State.
The group drew attention not just from its large number of supporters present but also with animals representing the various areas that will be positively impacted with the passage of the bills. An American Quarter Horse, American Paint Horse, Thoroughbred, Mustang and two Greyhounds greeted Capitol visitors.
Grammy award winner and equestrian enthusiast Lyle Lovett addressed the group on the front steps of the Capitol. As a long-time horse owner, Lovett is aware of the plight of the horse racing in the state and how that negatively affects all areas of the industry. “We’re hoping that by passing this legislation we will be able to sustain what has been a tremendous tradition and vital part of the Texas economy — the equine and agriculture business,” he said.
Every year, an estimated $2.5 billion leaves Texas for neighboring states with casino gaming. The operation of slots at racetracks in neighboring states provides an insurmountable economic advantage over Texas tracks. The consequence of this economic disparity has been the exodus of horses, breeding farms and other horse professionals to other states as they follow higher purses. This leaves the Texas horse industry at an overwhelming disadvantage which threatens the very existence of a vital horse industry and agricultural enterprises in the state.
Supporters of SB 1118/ HB 2111 crowded into the chamber of the Texas House of Representatives and made their presence known when Speaker Pro Tempore Beverly Woolley (R-Houston) welcomed them to the Capitol from the house floor. Woolley is the lead Sponsor of HB 2111.
“We are extremely pleased with the turn-out today,” said Val Clark, executive director of Texas HORSE. “We are urging all horsemen who want to have a voice on this matter to contact their legislators and ask for the opportunity to vote on this in November.”
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