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Tallahassee Update

Even though Florida’s 2015 Legislative Session doesn’t begin until March 3, Florida’s horsemen don’t have a moment to lose in making sure our past performance doesn’t garner the dreaded “NF” (no factor) designation.
Sequestered, guarded and mostly active during times the rest of the world is usually just awakening, the backstretch can be a magical place where the realities of the world slip away as horsemen conduct their challenging work seven days a week, 365 days a year.  It’s easy to forget that outside our stable gates, other folks are making decisions on how we may be allowed to conduct our business  in the future—or whether we have a business at all.
Elected by the people, for the people, our Senators and State Representatives are the personification of our democratic system, meant to represent Florida’s diversity of people, businesses and other organizations, such as the FHBPA.  Like horse racing, the face of the Florida Legislature has changed during the past decade and, partially thanks to term limits, many of our elected officials may not be as familiar with the horse racing business as we’d like to think they are.   Worse, no Florida legislator in recent memory has come from the ranks of Florida’s Thoroughbred racing industry.
Horsemen are taxpayers, voters, business owners, employers and parents of schoolchildren.  We keep Florida running to the tune of $1 billion in annual economic impact.  And yet, in this era of big campaign money, we wonder if the average person can make a difference?   We allow others to refer to us as a “special interest,” without reminding them we are indeed just that, because a whole lot of horsemen are “especially interested” in growing our own businesses, jobs and collective future.
With membership of over 6,000 Thoroughbred owners and trainers who do business in Florida, the FHBPA certainly has the critical mass to ensure each one is heard.   But we can’t do it without your help.
Horsemen have always been dedicated to good citizenship.  Part of the FHBPA mission is making sure our elected officials know what horsemen mean to Florida’s economy.   So what can you do?
For starters, just a simple email to your Senator, State Representative and Florida’s Governor telling them about yourself as a horseman, what you contribute to Florida’s economy and why horse racing is important will go miles toward helping in our educational efforts.   No lawmaker can help but be moved by a true outpouring of grassroots support.  But, to accomplish that, we need each and every horseman to start communicating with your elected officials—not only on the state level, but at the city and county level as well.
As we draw to the wire in this election year, horsemen’s focused efforts in personally communicating the FHBPA message to Florida’s Legislature will be more critical than ever before.