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Washington state bill allows alternative funding for small tracks

April 8, 2011     E-mail this page to a friend!

Washington State Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, was the prime sponsor of a bill to help the horseracing industry, one that Gov. Christine Gregoire signed into law on April 5. The benefit for Eastern Washington horsemen is twofold: the bill requires the state Horse Racing Commission to distribute a specific amount of collected funds to nonprofit meets, and changes the state statute governing nonprofit horse tracks to allow them to receive both public and private funds.

In the recent past, including 2010, Waitsburg, Dayton, Kennewick, and Walla Walla hosted nonprofit horse-racing events. However, this February the commission denied race dates to all but the Kennewick track for 2011, citing a lack of funds. In response to horsemen's pleas, Sen. Hewitt introduced the bill to help the industry get funding and retain jobs in the industry.

In a conversation with his hometown paper, the Union Bulletin, Hewitt said that while the measure opens a financial door for the tracks, "no one is anticipating any funds at this point."

"This gives them the latitude to stay in the hunt and accept some private funds if they can find it," he said.