Federal Legislators Support HISA in Court Filing

Federal Legislators Support HISA in Court Filing


Three lawmakers who led the way in passing the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 have filed an argument with a United States District Court requesting the court toss a lawsuit filed by a horsemen’s group contesting the constitutionality of the legislation. 

In March, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and a number of state or regional HBPA groups filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division, claiming that the HISA legislation signed into law late last year “unconstitutionally delegates to a private entity the legislative authority to regulate plaintiffs.” 

The horsemen are asking the court to find HISA unconstitutional because it violates the private non-delegation doctrine.

In a May 14 filing Sen. Mitch McConnell, who was Senate Majority Leader last year when the legislation was passed; and Congressmen Paul Tonko (a Democrat from New York) and Andy Barr (Republican, Kentucky) called for the horsemen’s lawsuit to be dismissed.

In their argument, an amici curiae, they point out that Congress considered at least eight different bills addressing integrity and safety in horse racing since 2013 until HISA’s passage. They say that because the newly formed Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority will be under the Federal Trade Commission, it meets constitutional standards. 

“HISA adheres to a well-established model of federal regulation by authorizing a private entity called the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority to propose, not promulgate, rules that a federal agency—the Federal Trade Commission—may approve, reject, or functionally modify.”

The filing points out that the Maloney Act, a critical element of the regulatory infrastructure of federal securities markets, similarly authorizes a private entity called the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to propose rules that a federal agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, may approve, reject, or modify. It also noted a similar set-up of entities under the oversight of the federal National Bituminous Coal Commission.

“Because HISA is vitally important legislation addressing a matter of national concern, and because its structure is consistent with regulatory configurations long used by Congress and long sustained by the federal courts, Defendants’ motion to dismiss should be granted,” the lawmakers said in their argument.

The filing goes on to outline the history of the legislation and the need for its enactment, noting that regulation of equine drug testing and medication rules has remained a state-level patchwork until Congress took action.

“HISA addresses these safety and public confidence concerns by mandating both adequate and uniform equine health and safety rules nationwide,” the filing says, adding that the legislation also establishes “a racetrack safety program applicable to all covered horses, covered persons, and covered horse races.”

Currently, HISA is scheduled to go into effect in July 2022. Earlier this month the first HISA board was named, along with two standing committees.

On May 11 Association of Racing Commissioners International chairman Robert Lopez said his umbrella group of state racing regulators will work to support a smooth transition to the HISA approach.

“We view this as an opportunity to achieve improvements we support and believe necessary,” Lopez said.   



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