For the first time in Kentucky history, there will be a legislative subcommittee that will regularly address issues that affect the horse breeding and racing industry in the state.
The Horse Farming Subcommittee of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to meet each month beginning June 18. The co-chairs are Sen. Damon Thayer and Rep. Susan Westrom, both of whom have worked to develop a forum to educate other legislators on industry-related issues.
Though it's called the Horse Farming Subcommittee, the co-chairs will determine the agenda for each meeting. A major focus will be the economic impact of the horse industry in the state. Everyone from bankers to farm managers to researchers to veterinarians will be asked to appear to provide information.
During the last two legislative sessions in Kentucky, the issue of racetrack gaming has been on the table. Officials have said privately that legislators need to be further educated about the scope of the racing and breeding industry in the e. Industry-related bills are expected to surface during the 2004 session.
The subcommittee will focus on all breeds of horses and their substantial impact on the economy in Kentucky.
"This is the first ray of hope in a long time to pay tribute to an industry that has contributed so much to our state," Westrom said. "This is a golden opportunity to educate legislators."
"What we plan to do is use this as a forum to educate legislators on the economic impact of the horse industry," Thayer said. "It will deal with all breeds, but the Thoroughbred industry will be a big part of it. We have a lot of ground to cover."
The agenda for the first meeting, to be held in Northern Kentucky, will be set the week of May 26. Meetings will be held in Frankfort, the state capital, as well as other locations around the state.
"I think we're really going to be able to make a huge impact," Westrom said.
Including Thayer and Westrom, there are 12 legislators scheduled to serve on the Horse Farming Subcommittee, though as of May 19 it was subject to change.