Horse bill receives approval from Rules and Judiciary, moves forward to Full Body
Sen. Allison DeGazon’s bill to add horses to the definition of livestock has cleared its second hurdle after being approved during the Committee on Rules and Judiciary on Monday afternoon.
The bill was voted on favorably by all senators in attendance and its next step is to be heard by the full body during the upcoming legislation session.
The bill’s amendments—which defined horses for the use of racing, not consumption--addressed the concerns of the Department of Agriculture, the horse racing commission and senators as presented from the July 12th hearing from the Committee on Economic Development, Regulations and Agriculture.
“This amendment defines horses as thoroughbred horses utilized for racing purposes. These thoroughbred horses were at one time registered with the National Jockey Club via affiliation through our local jockey club that has been inactive for too long,” DeGazon said, noting that the value of thoroughbreds in the territory has greatly diminished.
According to DeGazon the bill would not only provide small business opportunities but also strengthen the presence of the horse racing industry in the Virgin Islands, allow horses to be bred and purchased from the Virgin Islands and also provide technical support for horse owners.
“This would allow the USVI horse racing facilities to take the initial steps towards being recognized as a sanctioned racing facility that other national and international horses would consider during the winter months and off season for continued training and rehabilitation,” DeGazon said. “This creates more small-business opportunities for the budding industry.”
The bill also opens the doors for more equine veterinary practices in the territory through its Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA).
“The Racing Commission and TOBA could now seek qualified equine veterinarians to come to the territory. In addition, training for the proper care of horses could be channeled via these organizations,” DeGazon said.
DeGazon spoke with Ira Mills, Tax Assessor for the Virgin Islands, who stated that there would be minimal no negative economic impact from the bill.
“This bill is a strong and positive step in economic development. It will set the foundation and allow the VI to become the premiere horse racing industry in the Caribbean,” DeGazon said.