Gov. Gray Davis

Gov. Gray Davis

California Workers' Comp Bill Signed by Davis

Legislation allowing California horsemen to use a portion of the money generated from off-track wagering to help defray spiraling workers' compensation insurance costs has been signed into law by Gov. Gray Davis.

AB 2931 by Assemblyman Jerome Horton (D-Inglewood) permits up to $5 million from the state's vanning and stabling fund and marketing committee to be redirected to workers' compensation.

Earlier this week, the California Horse Racing Board authorized an increase in the percentage taken from off-track purse money and race track commissions for vanning and stabling to help create the workers' comp fund.

California racing officials are in the process of hammering out an agreement with major insurer American International Group. The deal would establish a workers' compensation program at a substantially lower premium rate for most of the state's Thoroughbred trainers than what they are currently paying the government-backed fund, currently the only source of insurance available.

Officials told the CHRB they hoped to have a program with AIG in place by Nov. 1.

Davis signed similar legislation for the state harness industry that would allow horsemen to redirect purse money for worker's compensation. The bill requires a written agreement between racing associations and horsemen, and is subject to CHRB approval.

Davis also signed into law two other horse racing-related bills.

AB 2619 by Assemblyman Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark) gives trainer/owners and their spouses the right to join the Thoroughbred Owners of California and allocates three positions on the TOC Board of Directors to owners who also train.

SB 1337, by Senator Edward Vincent (D-Inglewood), doubles the amount designated from charity day racing, to a maximum of $2 million, that can be used as an endowment for a nonprofit corporation or trust that would assist disabled jockeys. In addition, another five percent would be provided to a nonprofit corporation to assist horsemen and backstretch personnel affected by alcohol or substance abuse.