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Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST)... [1] => Today the Supreme Court released its opinion in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, rejecting the Professional and Amateur... [2] => April 18, 2018 On April 18, the House Natural Resources Committee convened a “mark-up” to consider amendments to H.R.... [3] => March 23, 2018 Shortly after 12:30 am, on Friday, March 23, Congress approved a massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending... [4] => March 13, 2018 The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced additional steps... 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On Thursday, May 24,  Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act of 2018 (S. 2957), legislation which is identical to the House companion, H.R. 1847, championed by Reps. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR). Several senators have signed onto the bill as original cosponsors, including Sens. Moran (R-KS), Collins (R-ME), Blumenthal (D-CT), Feinstein (D-CA), McCaskill (D-MO) and Markey (D-MA), Daines (R-MT) and Toomey (R-PA).

The PAST Act lays out common sense solutions to prevent the continued practice of taking action on a horse's limb, aka “soring,” to produce an accentuated gait for competition. The bill would take important steps to build on the progress made since passage of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970, which precipitated a dramatic decline in the practice of soring a horse’s limb. The legislation would amend the HPA to establish a new system for inspecting horses, revise penalties for violations of the Act, and modify enforcement procedures.

The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce. The AHC will continue to advocate for additional co-sponsors in order to move this important legislation forward.

To view a copy of a statement from the office of Sen. Warner (D-VA), please click here:
https://www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2018/5/warner-crapo-introduce-legislation-to-prevent-horse-soring.

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Today the Supreme Court released its opinion in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, rejecting the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a federal statute which effectively banned sports gambling in most state jurisdictions.  In a six to three opinion, the high court reversed a 2016 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which upheld the federal law.  Importantly, the court affirmed Congress’s authority to regulate sports betting directly.  However, the court struck PASPA on the grounds that the statute infringed on a state’s ability to “authorize” gambling within its jurisdiction, thereby violating the constitutional principle of “dual sovereignty.”  The court states that in the event Congress doesn’t place direct regulations on gambling, then states are free to enact betting laws as they see fit. 

While today’s decision gives the green light for individual states to move forward with sports gambling schemes, Congress was quick to offer a legislative fix to address the role of the federal government in sports gambling activity.  Not long after the release of the Supreme Court decision, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) announced that he plans to introduce legislation that he states will remedy a “patchwork” of state laws that won’t adequately protect the “integrity of sports.”  As an original sponsor of PASPA when it was enacted in 1992, Sen. Hatch states that his legislation will “protect consumers, safeguard against underage and problem gambling, and help states who choose not to permit sports betting within their borders.”

“Until today, pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing has been the only legal form of sports wagering available throughout most of the United States at both physical locations and online. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled PASPA unconstitutional, states are free to regulate sports betting as they see fit. Horse racing must rise to the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by this expansion of sports betting,” stated Alex Waldrop, Chairman of AHC’s Racing Committee and President of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. 

AHC will provide a more detailed analysis of the Supreme Court decision and legislative responses during the days ahead.  To view a copy of the Supreme Court decision, please click here:  https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-476_dbfi.pdf.  To view a copy of Sen. Hatch’s (R-UT) announcement for a federal framework for sports gambling, please click here: https://www.hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/releases?ID=02C2FD7A-6D68-40B9-8002-BA458CF4DD4F 

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April 18, 2018

On April 18, the House Natural Resources Committee convened a “mark-up” to consider amendments to H.R. 3400, the Recreation-Not-Red Tape (RNR) Act, and ultimately passed the legislation by voice vote.   A debate over an amendment offered by Rep. Elizabeth Cheney (R-WY) that would have removed a provision outlining a National Recreation Area System from the legislation preceded the vote on the final bill.  The amendment, which Chairman Bishop opposed, failed by a vote of 27 to nine.   Today’s committee action gives the RNR Act the green light to advance to the House floor, on a date to be determined. 

H.R. 3400 and its companion bill in the Senate, S. 1633, expand the scope of the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act (PL 114-245), signed into law in late 2016.  While the RNR Act focuses on streamlined permitting to access public lands, the bill includes provisions that would authorize the Department of the Interior, through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), to enter into cooperative agreements with private parties to promote the role of volunteers in trail maintenance.  The bill also authorizes the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and BLM to develop an interagency trail management plan that will assure uniform maintenance standards for trails crossing jurisdictional lines between the two agencies. 

During recent months, the scope of the bill has expanded to include provisions of the “GO Act,” which streamlines the permitting process for guides and outfitters operating on public lands; and the “21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act,” which promotes the employment of veterans and youth to work on public lands projects.  To view a copy of a statement from Chairman Bishop applauding passage of the bill, please click here:  https://naturalresources.house.gov/newsroom/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=404531

If you would like more information about the RNR Act and related lobbying activity, please contact Bryan Brendle at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org or 202-296-4031.       

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March 23, 2018

Shortly after 12:30 am, on Friday, March 23, Congress approved a massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 to fund federal government operations through September 30.  The 2,232 page bill includes several regulatory measures that will provide flexibility for the horse industry, most notably H-2B visa cap relief for seasonal, guest workers and a temporary enforcement exemption for the transportation of livestock from the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations.  The legislation also includes policy “riders” to defund Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs that will impact the equine sector and broader agriculture economy.  

Lawmakers Raise the Ceiling on H-2B Guest-Worker Visas:

Despite opposition from a large number of lawmakers from both political parties, the horse industry and its allies persuaded Congress to effectively raise the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cap on H-2B temporary worker visas from the current cap of 66,000 to 129,500 visas for FY2018.   A provision tying the number of H-2B visas to a number not to exceed the maximum number of participants from the returning worker program in a previous year has effectively doubled the number of visas the agency may issue in 2018.  Because of the fast approaching seasonal labor needs for breeding farms, race tracks, and other seasonal employers, AHC and its partners are urging DHS to implement the flexibility measures as quickly as possible to mitigate paperwork bottlenecks during the remainder of the year.  Other key H-2B provisions include acceptance of private wage surveys to determine “prevailing wage” requirements, and language that defines “seasonal need” as a 10-month period within the context of the program.  The coalition has already begun to focus efforts on creating permanent cap relief in future legislative vehicles.  This would decouple the H-2B visa issue from the annual appropriations process and create an environment of investment certainty.

Congress Delays ELD Enforcement for Livestock to September 30:

On the heels of the DOT’s March 13 issuance of an additional 90-day exemption from ELD enforcement requirements for livestock, the bill includes a provision that would defund enforcement to at least September 30, which is the official end of the fiscal year.  The delay will provide DOT and industry stakeholders more time to educate livestock haulers on the proper scope of the ELD mandate, which has caused uncertainty since being finalized in late 2015.  Furthermore, industry’s September 2017 request to push back the compliance deadline by a full year is still outstanding, leaving the possibility of another enforcement delay for livestock.   

Lawmakers Fully Fund Tax Law Implementation, Defund Horse Slaughter Inspections, EPA Ag Emission and Reporting Rules: 

In a rare move to increase resources for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Congress appropriated an additional $320 million through September 2019 for the nation’s tax collectors to help assure a smooth implementation of the 2017 tax law.  The omnibus also includes a rider that bans funding of USDA personnel to inspect horses prior to slaughter, a provision which lawmakers have renewed within multiple spending bills during previous years to effectively shut down horse slaughter in the U.S.  On the EPA front, the bill also defunds enforcement of rules that would do the following: 

  • Mandate the reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from decomposing animal waste located on farms;
  • And reporting air emissions from farms resulting from hazardous substances, pursuant to the nation’s Superfund law.

AHC will deliver updates on more details within the 2018 omnibus spending package that impact the horse industry as they emerge.  To view a copy of the 2232 page bill, please click here:  https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20180319/BILLS-115SAHR1625-RCP115-66.pdf.  If you have questions about FY2018 appropriations, please contact Bryan Brendle, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org.

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March 13, 2018

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced additional steps to address the unique needs of the country’s agriculture industries and provided further guidance to assist in the effective implementation of the Congressionally-mandated electronic logging device (ELD) rule without impeding commerce or safety.

FMCSA is announcing an additional 90-day temporary waiver from the ELD rule for agriculture related transportation. Additionally, during this time period, FMCSA will publish final guidance on both the agricultural 150 air-mile hours-of-service exemption and personal conveyance.

It is important to note that this 90 days is an extension of the previous 90 days given to all agriculture commodity haulers.  This is not a final decision on the livestock specific ELD exemption request filed in September—a determination on that request is still to be made. The AHC will continue to push for this exemption along with other livestock industry associations. The welfare, safety, and health of the animals in transit, together with the safety of other drivers on the road, are top priorities for the equine industry and its enthusiasts.

The AHC will continue to work with the FMCSA and the DOT during this delay to better meet the needs of the animal agriculture community to ensure that there are no unintended consequences from current ELD regulations.

If you have any questions, please contact the AHC.

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February 26, 2018

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) followed their recent meeting with AHC staff, a meeting in response to the AHC request for clarification, by releasing two documents on the existing Commercial Driver License (CDL) regulations and how those regulations impact the horse industry. The AHC is appreciative of the horse specific efforts that FMCSA have taken to quell the concerns of our recreational enthusiasts.

The guidance titled “Agricultural Exceptions and Exemptions to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Hours of Service (HOS) and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Rules” and “Non-Business Related Transportation of Horses” explain how published FMCSA guidance provides an exception for the transportation of horses when the transportation in question is not business related (neither for compensation, nor where the driver is engaged in an underlying business related to the move). In these cases, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations do not apply, even if prize or scholarship money is offered. This includes the Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations, requirements for Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) and CDL regulations, unless required by the driver’s home state. Both documents contain example scenarios that may help horse owners better understand the regulations as they exist today.

The documents can be found on the FMCSA website at;

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/non-business-related-transportation-horses

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/agricultural-exceptions-and-exemptions-federal-motor-carrier-safety

The AHC will continue to pursue clarifications until the industry is satisfied that there are no unintended consequences from current CDL or ELD regulations. The AHC will take action where clarifications are not sufficient, including the continued collaboration with the entire livestock industry to get a delay in ELD enforcement.

AHC staff are still compiling the industry’s concerns and questions to forward to DOT and invite people to share their comments. Additionally, DOT has established a specific email address for agricultural specific questions at agricultural@dot.gov . This address will be used to generate a future F.A.Q. page.

The AHC encourages our members to share their questions to the DOT email as well to better highlight the existing concerns regarding the interpretation of CDL regulations. If clarifications and the F.A.Q. fail to address the concerns of our members, then the AHC will continue their efforts and pursue both legislative and regulatory solutions.

Find AHC resources at https://www.horsecouncil.org/eld-mandate-cdl-requirements/

Please contact the American Horse Council with any questions or comments.

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On Thursday, May 24,  Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act of 2018 (S. 2957), legislation which is identical to the House companion, H.R. 1847, championed by Reps. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR). Several senators have signed onto the bill as original cosponsors, including Sens. Moran (R-KS), Collins (R-ME), Blumenthal (D-CT), Feinstein (D-CA), McCaskill (D-MO) and Markey (D-MA), Daines (R-MT) and Toomey (R-PA).

The PAST Act lays out common sense solutions to prevent the continued practice of taking action on a horse's limb, aka “soring,” to produce an accentuated gait for competition. The bill would take important steps to build on the progress made since passage of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970, which precipitated a dramatic decline in the practice of soring a horse’s limb. The legislation would amend the HPA to establish a new system for inspecting horses, revise penalties for violations of the Act, and modify enforcement procedures.

The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce. The AHC will continue to advocate for additional co-sponsors in order to move this important legislation forward.

To view a copy of a statement from the office of Sen. Warner (D-VA), please click here:
https://www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2018/5/warner-crapo-introduce-legislation-to-prevent-horse-soring.

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