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Get involved!

January 9, 2010     E-mail this page to a friend!

Most states in TRJóThe Racing Journal region have relatively short legislative seasons that start in January. (Check both state and provincial legislative schedules at Because horseracing and parimutuel wagering are government-regulated activities, now is the time to get involved in the direction of the industry in your area.

Hereís a short reminder of how to approach your involvement in participatory government:

  • Know your representatives. Determine what district you live in, and get contact information for your senator and representative.

  • Know your ďmarket.Ē Thinking locally is a start, but make sure you also know where racetracks and other major horse operations are located across your state, and find out who represents those areas.

  • Know your decision-making process. What committees are responsible for oversight of the various functions of horseracing and breeding? In most states, the finance committee will play a major role in establishing or altering financial requirements or conditions. Learn what other committees have control over aspects of the industry in your state, and research any bills they might be looking at this session that might, in any way, affect our industry.

  • Know your position. Legislators are busy, so donít plan to be able to sit down and just chat with yours. Take time to make a short agenda for your visit. If you write instead of visiting, keep your letter or e-mail concise and targeted. Whether your contact is in person or in writing, remember to tell the legislator who you are, where you live, and how you are connected to the horse industry.

  • Donít buck the trend. Everyone is entitled to his or her own ideas, but remember that itís often counterproductive to assert your own position when it contradicts or simply doesnít sync-up with that of your industry representatives. Find out what legislation your stateís breed or racing organizations are supporting or opposing this year, and find out as much as you can about the topic. Then ask the organizations where they stand on the issue, and develop your own approach to helping deliver that message. If you disagree with the organizationís position, argue that at the organizational levelóitís much less effective to make an individual stand in opposition when you communicate with legislators.

  • Make a date. When your research is complete, act. In many states, legislators hope to wrap up sessions quickly, so act now. Set aside time to reach out to your representatives: call their offices to schedule appointments with the legislators or their staff members, or dedicate an hour or so each week to write letters or send e-mails to decision-makers.
  • Keep those lines of communication open! Itís a great first step to contact a representative, but make sure you keep that communication active. Let everyone know that you are willing to be contacted with any questions or for other follow-up. And ďdingĒ your rep from time to time during the session to see what progress he or she has made since your last contact. Even if things donít work out the way you had hoped, remember to thank the people who took time to listen to your ideas and concerns.

Remember that the TRJ website is a great source of information. Click the Tracks/Info tab at the top for links to breed organizations and other industry representatives.