07/01/2002 11:00PM

Passage of insurance bill delayed

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The resolution of the workmen's compensation crisis in California has been delayed until at least August, because the state legislature recessed for summer break on Monday without taking action on legislation to defray insurance costs.

"It raises the level of frustration, but it really doesn't change much," said Ed Halpern, executive director of the California Throughbred Trainers. "We are going to get that money one way or another."

The bill would direct as much as $5 million of excess money from a stable and vanning fund to a fund that would be used to offset recent increases in workmen's compensation insurance costs for trainers. The bill is endorsed by racetracks, the CTT, and the Thoroughbred Owners of California. TOC president John Van de Kamp helped push the bill through committee, and it had been ready to be presented to the Senate floor.

"We're still trying to find out what happened, but I don't think it's dead," Van de Kamp said Tuesday. "The bill has had no opposition, and should go to the Senate floor at the first opportunity. Our goal has been to make it emergency legislation so the governor signs it as soon as it hits his hands."

The California legislature reconvenes the first week of August, at which time Van de Kamp expects the bill to be passed. Meanwhile, the TOC and CTT are addressing insurance-plan alternatives. One idea gaining momentum is for self-insurance, which would require a reserve of about $8 million to $12 million before being instituted.