Kentucky Workers' Comp Bill Stalls in General Assembly

Legislation to authorize workers' compensation insurance for jockeys appears to have stalled in the Kentucky General Assembly and probably won't be voted on during the current session, which is nearing an end.

According to published reports, Democratic Rep. Denver Butler, chairman of the House Licensing and Occupations Committee, said language in the bill has been changed to the point where committee members don't understand it. Democratic Rep. Carolyn Belcher said that's not the case, and that she can't understand why the bill isn't being considered for a House vote.

Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who had created a blue ribbon panel to study the workers' comp issue in the racing industry, supports the legislation.

Democratic Speaker of the House Jody Richards told the Louisville Courier-Journal he believes there's a way to get the bill to the House floor, but he offered no specifics. Meanwhile, the House Licensing and Occupations Committee meeting set for March 22 was canceled, as was a meeting of the House Banking and Insurance Committee, which had been mentioned as a possible vehicle to get a hearing on the legislation.

The original bill called for about $1.3 million to be raised each year via contributions from racetracks and racehorse owners. However, the racing industry struck a compromise that would make bettors help pay the insurance cost through a 0.1% increase in pari-mutuel takeout. That plan reportedly has widespread support.