Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Governor Fletcher urges movement on jockeys bill
FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 13, 2006) - Governor Ernie Fletcher, prior to his release from Saint Joseph Hospital this morning, called on a group of horse industry representatives to settle differences over a bill providing workers’ compensation insurance for jockeys in Kentucky.
House Bill 741, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Belcher (D-Owingsville), has been recommitted to the House Licensing and Occupations Committee to resolve differences over a proposed funding mechanism. A meeting chaired this morning by Chris Lilly, commissioner of the Department for Public Protection, brought together representatives of thoroughbred organizations to examine other funding options.
"I asked those involved in the negotiations to work their hardest to resolve their differences as quickly as possible," Governor Fletcher said. "Providing workers’ compensation insurance for jockeys is a legislative priority and will ensure Kentucky remains a leader in the horse racing world."
Governor Fletcher’s phone call was praised by Rep. Belcher. "I want to thank Governor Fletcher for calling from his hospital bed to help move this process forward," Rep. Belcher said. "It’s an important, bipartisan issue."
The provisions of HB 741 closely follow the recommendations of a blue ribbon panel appointed last year by Governor Fletcher to study the issue. The blue ribbon panel - which included representatives from the General Assembly, the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, horsemen’s organizations, a jockey organization and race tracks - recommended creation of a fund to provide benefits for jockeys and apprentice jockeys. Since the panel’s September report, various interests, including the jockeys and the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, have expressed concern about implementation of the recommendations.