09/26/2002 11:00PM

California worker's comp bill signed


ARCADIA, Calif. - Legislation has been signed by Gov. Gray Davis of California permitting the state's horsemen to redirect a portion of the money that currently funds stabling, vanning, and a marketing committee to help offset spiraling worker's compensation insurance costs.

The governor's approval comes when California racing officials are negotiating with the American International Group insurance company to launch a workers' compensation program that would substantially lower rates that horsemen currently pay through the government-backed State Fund. Money from the stabling and vanning fund and marketing committee will be used to help launch the new program.

"This is great news," said Ed Halpern, executive director of the California Thoroughbred Trainers.

Since March, trainers throughout the state have paid higher fees for workers' compensation insurance. The last private company left the marketplace in February.

In recent months, officials have been unable to reach agreements with private insurers.

Halpern said negotiations continue with the American International Group. A program is not expected to be in place until Nov. 1 at the earliest.

"The paperwork is going back and forth," Halpern said. "We're hoping to see the signatures on the papers."