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End to greyhound racing in sight

by Dara Kam | April 29th, 2011

Dog tracks would no longer have to run dog races but could continue to operate the more lucrative card rooms under a measure passed by the Senate and awaiting secondary House approval.

Sen. Maria Sachs, the bill sponsor, said the bill is needed so the state can stop bailing out the dying greyhound racing industry while keeping the tracks alive.

Palm Beach Kennel Club owners support the measure in part because fewer races will make their dog races more valuable when broadcast over simulcast at other tracks. Only three of the state’s existing 16 dog tracks, including PBKC, are expected to continue to keep running the dogs if the bill becomes law.

The measure would also benefit PBKC because it is one of the seven tracks that now purchase tax credits from other tracks who are eligible for the tax breaks but don’t generate enough revenue to use them.

Critics of the measure include the dog owners and breeders, who claim that doing away with the races will put thousands of workers out of a job.

But Sachs, D-Delray Beach, said the state would no longer have to subsidize “a business model that’s no longer profitable” through tax breaks as public interest in the races – and revenues from them – decline. Revenues generated for the state from dog racing have plummeted by more than half over the past 10 years, from about $40 million in 2000 to about $5.2 million last year.

The measure created a stir on the floor as some Republicans tried to amend the bill to accommodate the state’s thoroghbred industry.

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, alleged that senators seeking to file the amendments were “were intimidated out of them.”

Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher, a former lobbyist who three years ago represented the Jacksonville Kennel Club, which opposed the amendments, disagreed, saying he didn’t want to bring up amendments that had not been previously heard.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, arms crossed and frowning at the podium, was not pleased by the exchange.

“If you want to continue to debate we will stay here as long as people want to continue to debate,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said. “We’re going to move this bill out of here today because I think we should focus on other bills.”

Left to defend her bill before the vote, Sachs reminded her colleagues that “it’s a dog bill pure and simple. Started as a dog bill and I want it to end as a dog bill.”

The Senate passed the House’s bill (HB 1145) by a 25-14 but made one change before sending it back for another vote. The Senate version would phase in changes to the tax credits tracks get for running the races over five years.

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6 Responses to “End to greyhound racing in sight”

  1. Unreal Says:

    Children children please come to order so we can get out of class on time, or you will all have to stay after!

  2. OBIWAN Says:

    Detractors need remember our FL House and Senate are transparent, accountable and responsible.

    It takes three readings to move a bill. Anyone can offer up amendments… no matter how ludicrous.

    Full Committee Analyses are online for review also to understand what the problem is and the impacts of solving it.

    You can even download the exact subcommittee worksheets our FL House used to ‘play’ with how you’d balance the FL budget.

    Its Tricky and illuminating as to the morasse our Federal Money Laundry has become! One third of Health spending is ‘fixed’ by Fed law. One third is ‘matching’ Fed funds. Only one third is truly discretionary!!

    FL is 48th in Fed funds per capita… we only get $1,200 of the $1,800 ‘average’.

    NY gets $2,700… the Schummer suckup?

  3. Penny Barrett Says:

    It is about time to take the dogs out of the track. Those dogs are bred just for profit, they live terrible lives and when they cannot produce money, not good runners, etc are destroyed. They have large litters and many of them do not make it to the track but are killed because they do not show “promise” as racers. Kudos to Sen. Maria Sachs.

  4. Eric Says:

    These bills were about greyhounds, first and only. I was pleased when the Republican members removed the amendments that attempted to deal with horses. There will be time to consider those issues next year, and this wasn’t the time for them. This is definitely a step in the right direction for Florida. Fewer tracks mean fewer greyhounds living in cages, and risking injury at every turn.

  5. Eric Says:

    What a fine example of those which support greyhound racing you are, Frannie. You’re upset because Sen Sachs wouldn’t sell out to the handful of greyhound racers actually living in Florida. Remember, those who want to keep racing will keep racing.

  6. Cyndi R Says:

    You are so right Eric. I applaud Senator Sachs for doing what has needed to be done for years. The public has spoken by not patronizing dog races… why should Florida continue to subsidize this inhumane and outdated industry with our tax dollars? Finally the dogs have won one.

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