05/27/2016 3:23PM

Assembly representative introduces NYRA board bill


The chairman of the New York Assembly’s Racing, Gaming, and Wagering committee has joined with his Senate counterpart in introducing a bill calling for the New York Racing Association to control eight appointments on a reconstituted 15-seat board.

Rep. Gary Pretlow, who represents Mt. Vernon and Yonkers, said on Friday that the bill is a carbon copy of the legislation filed earlier this week by Sen. John Bonacic, the chairman of the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee. Pretlow said that he and Bonacic had agreed on the provisions in the bills prior to the legislation being filed.

The bills would replace the current 17-seat board with a 15-seat board, reserving two appointments for the New York governor and one each for the leaders of the Senate and Assembly. The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and New York Thoroughbred Breeders would each be granted a seat, and the chief executive of NYRA would fill the last opening.

The legislation would restore control of the board to NYRA, four years after Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, pushed for legislation giving the state majority control. The initial plan was to restore control to NYRA last year, but Cuomo pressed for the state’s term of control to be extended one year.

Pretlow said that Cuomo’s office has indicated that the governor wants to control five appointments on the board, but Pretlow predicted that the legislation would survive a veto threat.

“If it passes the Assembly and the Senate then it goes to him for a veto,” Pretlow said. “If he vetoes it, then that would mean the state would still control NYRA for one more year, and no one wants that. So he won’t veto it.”

Earlier this year, a Saratoga group said that Cuomo intended to press for a clawback in a portion of the subsidies that NYRA receives from slot machines at a casino adjacent to its Aqueduct racetrack in Queens. Pretlow, however, called that a rumor.

“I don’t know anything about that,” he said. “It wasn’t ever communicated to us from the governor.”