HISA delay bill introduced in US House

Representative Lance Gooden (R-TX-05) introduced legislation in the United States House of Representatives October 4 that would delay the implementation date of the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) from July 1, 2022, to January 1, 2024, according to a press release. 

The original legislation created a Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, whose initial regulations came into effect July 1. The Authority’s medication control and anti-doping regs are slated to go into effect January 1, 2023.

The text of Gooden’s bill was not immediately available. Presumably, it would at least delay the medication control and anti-doping regulations, if not also rolling back those rules already in place.

“The Authority has created uncertainty and harmed the horseracing industry,” Gooden said in the release. “State governments are best equipped to regulate their respective horse racing industries and I will not stand idly by while the federal government once again pushes a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Gooden’s state of Texas already has skirmished with HISA. Earlier this year, the Texas Racing Commission asserted that Texas law requires racing in the state to be conducted only under the state’s own rules and declined to participate in HISA. That led to a prohibition on the import of out-of-state Thoroughbred signals and on the export of Texas’ signals to other states, causing handle at Lone Star Park to plummet.

Texas has also moved to intervene in support of a lawsuit filed by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and others seeking to overturn HISA. Among other things, the lawsuit contends that the HISA statute impermissibly delegates government authority to a private entity – the Authority is a private entity – without sufficient oversight.

The HBPA welcomed the introduction of the legislation.

“I speak for all our membership, whose livelihood is determined by horse racing, when I say introduction of this legislation is a welcomed bit of common sense,” said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the HBPA. “HISA’s implementation so far has been inconsistent, contradictory, confusing, burdensome, and plagued by a failure to understand real world conditions. A reasonable pause giving horsemen in Texas and across the country time to work with HISA to fix these problems before any further harm is done serves everyone’s interest. We thank Representative Gooden for taking this first step.”

Gooden’s bill is H.R. 9132. It has one cosponsor, Republican Markwayne Mullins of Oklahoma, and has been referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee. There is no Senate companion at this time.