House BIll 2 - which is a brief two paragraphs long (the only thing that Martin Cothran found to like about it) was heard in the House Licensing and Occupations Committee this afternoon. Reps. Stumbo, Moberly and Larry Clark testified for the bill. House Speaker Stumbo told the Committee that telling the racing industry that they cannot have slots is like telling Toyota it can't make hybrid cars. Both will go somewhere else where they can do what they want.
Nick Nickerson, CEO of Keeneland was blunt in his prediction - "If the status quo remains, we will not have a year round thoroughbred racing circuit". He told the panel that there were other horse related activities in Kentucky, but the business of breeding thoroughbreds is suffering.
Nickerson said that seven Indiana casinos on the borders of Kentucky made 1.44 billion dollars in wagering in 2008. Some of that money is coming from Kentucky.
Martin Cothran of Say No to Casinos said that school building construction is "earmarks". He quoted the Lexington Herald Leader, which reported last week that the number of jobs connected to the horse industry is overstated. Supporters of the legislation say as many as 100,000 jobs could be affected. The paper said the number was inflated because the original statistic took into account every waiter, doctor, grocery that horse people patronize. Cothran contends the number is more like 31,000. He also told the Committee that the president of Churchill Downs made 6 million dollars last year, according to Reuters. The industry has spent $400,000 on lobbying efforts.
The committee didn't vote on the bill which has been to the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee already.