Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher Thursday appointed a panel to study workers' compensation coverage for jockeys and exercise riders, which he said is a legislative priority in 2006.Fletcher appointed 11 members to the blue ribbon panel and directed the group to issue a report with recommendations to his office by Sept. 1, 2005.Fletcher created the panel by executive order and directed it to thoroughly study the workers' compensation issue. Its findings will be used in drafting legislation for the 2006 General Assembly.
"Workers' compensation coverage is a complex issue, but it is in the best interest of Kentucky's signature industry that we find a solution that will offer protection to licensed jockeys, apprentice jockeys and exercise riders," the governor said.
The panel includes representatives from the General Assembly, the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority (KHRA), horsemen's organizations, a jockeys' organization, and race tracks. Fletcher named Tom Ludt, a member of the KHRA, to chair the panel.
"I am confident this panel will provide us with sound recommendations to address this critical issue," Fletcher said. "I want to commend the Thoroughbred race tracks in the state that are providing $1 million insurance policies for jockeys this year, ensuring protections are in place until legislation is passed."
Also appointed to the panel are: Sen. Gary Tapp; Rep. Jim Bruce; David Switzer, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders; Susan Bunning, Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association; Darrell Haire, The Jockeys' Guild; Steve Sexton, president, Churchill Downs; Harvie Wilkinson, vice-president, Keeneland; William Emrick, executive director of the Office of Workers' Claims; Jim Gallagher, executive director, KHRA; and LaJuana S. Wilcher, secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet.
At the governor's request, the KHRA began a study of the issue in 2004 and eventually suggested one possible approach: legislation to create a jockey injury compensation fund, with jockeys, apprentice jockeys and exercise riders considered employees of the fund solely for workers' compensation purposes.