12/02/2015 3:28PM

Texas Lt. Governor urges repeal of instant racing

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The second highest ranking government official in Texas has sent a letter to the Texas Racing Commission’s chairman “urging” the panel to repeal historical racing rules at its next meeting, Dec. 15. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick late Tuesday released the letter he sent to the commission’s Robert Schmidt.

An agenda for the commission meeting is not yet out, and whether it will include a vote concerning historical racing will not be known until late this week or early next week, a spokesman said Wednesday. Last month, two new members were appointed to the commission, both of whom will be eligible to vote Dec. 15.

The commission is operating under a temporary plan that extends through Feb. 29. Last month the state’s legislative budget board gave the panel authority to temporarily fund its operations for 90 days in the face of an initial extension that ended Nov. 30.

The funding conflict stems from an August vote by the commission not to repeal rules for historical racing it put in place in 2014. The commission’s adoption of those rules was legally challenged by charitable bingo and tribal interests, and a judge ruled the agency did not have the jurisdiction to pass historical racing and that it was a legislative matter.

“I ask that you take this opportunity to unwind historical racing and return the commission to its statutory purpose of enforcing the Texas Racing Act and its rules to ensure the safety, integrity, and fairness of Texas pari-mutuel racing,” Patrick wrote. “Additionally, I am committed to gathering stakeholders together – horse breeders, trainers, and other associated and affiliated agri-business – to find ways to improve opportunities outside of expanding the gambling footprint in Texas.”

The next Texas meet is the Sam Houston Thoroughbred season that starts Jan. 15.