Urgent: Equine Incentive Program Information

Update: The TQHA decided to testify in favor of HB 1881! Thanks to everybody that called.

Everyone,
I apologize for boring you if you aren’t involved in the horse business. However, many of you are. So, here is a copy of an email I have received that addresses HB 1881 authored by Rep. Sid Miller. It will arrive in the Texas Senate tomorrow! Please take action.
Thanks,
James O’Brien
********************Start Letter***********************
Dear Friends:

I have been informed by Senator Craig Estes’ office that Mr. Gib Lewis, a lobbyist for the Texas Quarter Horse Association, is working hard to kill House Bill 1881 by Representative Sid Miller. Senator Estes is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

As you know, HB 1881 is the Texas Equine Incentive Act. The bill has already passed the Texas House of Representatives by a 144 to 1 vote. It is now scheduled to be heard in the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs on Monday, May 11, 2009 at 3:00 PM., in open public forum.

Gib Lewis says TQHA doesn’t want this bill to pass and he is telling lawmakers that he represents the view of all quarter horse owners in Texas. Since TQHA’s membership is only about 2,000 and we have over 130,000 quarter horse owners in Texas, I am not sure that Mr. Lewis does not represent ALL of us.

House Bill 1881 creates a Texas Equine Incentive program like Kentucky’s successful Kentucky Breeders Incentive program. When Kentucky passed their program, they had the cooperation and support of both their state association, as well as the American Quarter Horse Association. The idea began with only 4 or so people who made the idea grow. They decided to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps to bring jobs and business back into the state.

HB 1881 is an industry funded plan like Kentucky’s, but not a tax. All agriculture has an industry funded check off program except horses (i.e., beef, it’s what’s for dinner; the incredible edible egg; pork, the other white meat, etc.). The bill allows any stallion owner to opt out if they don’t want to participate. It will be administered by Texas Department of Agriculture and they are excited about the plan. This will prevent stretching TQHA’s already tight staff budget.

The Texas horse racing industry wants nothing other than VLTs (Video Lottery Terminals) at the tracks and has been trying to get VLT’s passed since 1991. Their past actions in other sessions leads one to believe that they are willing to allow nothing to happen rather than have anything pass that is not exactly what they want. Kentucky faced a similar conservative legislature who would not pass gaming and they decided to create the Kentucky Breeders program to get horse industry financial assistance while still working to pass VLTs. Now, Kentucky may soon have both the incentive program and VLTs.

HB1881 is a non-gaming bill that will be a start in stemming the tide that caused the Texas Horse industry to drop from $11 billion in revenue in 1998 to $5.2 billion in revenue in 2008. The Texas Legislature meets for 21 more days and then does not meet again until 2011. If HB 1881 dies, then horsemen will have to wait 2 years for any additional legislation to be considered again. We are working on a HUGE deadline.

We need your help to send a message to Senator Estes and the members of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee that Texas Horsemen need help and that we support HB 1881. Tell them that Gib Lewis does not represent the interests of Texas Horsemen when they work to kill the only equine legislation that has passed either the House or Senate and (it has already passed the House) and is now being considered in the other chamber (Senate) that will provide financial relief to our industry.

Please fax, call, and email (it is important to do all three) Senator Estes and the other members of the committee first thing Monday morning (May 11) and let them let them know that HB 1881 is pro-Texas Horse and that you strongly support it.

We also need as many Texas Horsemen as possible to some to Austin on Monday and to testify in support of HB 1818. Please let me know if you can come to Austin and support this important legislation.

You should also call the leadership of TQHA to let them know that you do not agree with what Gib Lewis is doing and ask that they stop their opposition to HB 1881. Please remember, if HB 1881 fails to pass in the next 21 days, Texas Horsemen will have no chance for financial relief until January 2011 when the Texas legislature meets again and If a bill passed in 2011, the earliest it is likely to take affect is September, 2011. If you are a TQHA member, tell them that TQHA and Gib Lewis are not speaking for you on this issue.

Thank you for your prompt action on behalf of our industry and this important legislation.

Contact information below:

Senator Craig Estes, Chairman
Office: 512-463-0130
Fax: 512-463-8874
Email: craig.estes@senate.state.tx.us

Senator Carlos Uresti, Vice Chairman
Office: 512-463-0119
Fax: 512-463-1017
Email: carlos.uresti@senate.state.tx.us

Senator Glenn Hegar
Office: 512-463-0118
Fax: 512-475-3736
Email: glenn.hegar@senate.state.tx.us

Senator Mike Jackson
Office: 512-463-0111
Fax: 512-475-3727
Email: Mike.jackson@senate.state.tx.us

Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinajosa
Office: 512.463-0120
Fax: 512-463-0229
Email: Juan.hinajosa@senate.state.tx.us
Committee Clerk Ren Nance
Office: 512-463-0340
Email: ren.nance@senate.state.tx.us

Dr Tommy Hays
(512) 281-3396
(512) 281-5814
JTHAYS0606@aol.com

Rob Werstler
Texas Quarter Horse Association
(512) 458-5202
rwerstler@tqha.com
******************End of Letter*****************

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