06/01/2016 3:57PM

NYRA reprivatization bill moves forward

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A New York Senate committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would return control of the board of directors of the New York Racing Association to the association itself.

The bill, introduced last week by Sen. John Bonacic, was advanced Wednesday on schedule out of the Senate Racing, Wagering, and Gaming Committee. Bonacic is the chair of the committee.

The bill gives an executive committee of NYRA the power to appoint eight members to the 15-member board, and it reserves an additional seat for NYRA’s chief executive. Two others would be appointed by the governor, one each would be appointed by the leaders of the Senate and the Assembly, and one each would be reserved for a representative of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the New York Thoroughbred Breeders.

A bill identical to the one introduced by Bonacic was introduced last week to the Assembly’s Racing, Wagering, and Gaming Committee. The chair of that committee, Gary Pretlow, said last week that he expected both bills to be approved by the larger Senate and Assembly, despite accounts from some Saratoga-based groups that they have heard that Gov. Andrew Cuomo intends to float alternate proposals.

Cuomo engineered a state takeover of the board in 2012, citing dissatisfaction with NYRA’s management. The current board has 17 members, with a majority appointed by the governor and state legislative leaders.