CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Two bills are working their way through the legislature this year that could end greyhound racing in the Mountain State. The Senate will vote on one of those this week but many lawmakers say this could cost more than 1,700 jobs in the mountain state.
“Even if half the numbers are accurate why would we want to displace 600 workers,” says Delegate Erikka Storch (R-Ohio).
Senate members will have a final vote on Senate Bill 285 this Tuesday. The bill’s purpose is to eliminate the West Virginia greyhound breeding development fund and redirect all money to the state excess lottery revenue fund. Lead sponsor of the bill Senate President Mitch Carmichael says taxpayer dollars are needed elsewhere.
“$17 million goes into subsidizing the development and breeding of greyhounds in West Virginia when we have needs for our foster kids for our education community … hardly anyone in this state would say ‘I think we should use that money to subsidize the development of greyhound breeding’,” Carmichael (R-Jackson).
Other lawmakers, like Shawn Fluharty (D-Ohio), who are against the legislation tell a different story. “Not a single taxpayer dollar of yours is being used for this industry as long as you don’t go to the casino or the track. Full stop. Period. That’s how it works,” says Fluharty.
Critics also say the bill would hurt the entire state, not just Wheeling and Charleston where dog tracks are located.
“The money generated in this industry goes to all 55 counties it’s not like it just occurs in my backyard it occurs in all of our backyards,” says Fluharty.
Storch tells 13 News, “We cannot take that type of job hit and additionally our municipal pensions are tied largely to our tracks.”
The amendment stage is tomorrow in the senate and the final vote is Tuesday.
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