The Louisiana House of Representatives voted that owners of Louisiana’s race tracks and the owners of race horses should pay a portion of the high cost of getting health insurance for jockeys.
Lawmakers voted 61-29 to approve Senator Don Cravins’ bill that would set up the Jockeys Health and Welfare Benefit Fund, to cover those costs.
Jockeys, who weigh about 110 pounds and ride animals weighing over 2,000 pounds, are frequently injured and face especially high insurance rates as a result.
The bill now returns to the Senate because a House committee amended it.
Cravins says he hoped to tinker with it in a House-Senate conference committee so that the health insurance costs would be about evenly split among the jockeys, the tracks and horse owners.
Cravins says the total cost to insure the jockeys would be roughly $800,000 per year. About 50 jockeys would qualify.
Jockeys get paid based on a percentage of their races’ purses. The addition of slot machines at race tracks in 1997 brought new income to track owners and higher purses for horse owners, but only a slight financial benefit for jockeys.
Cravins says track and horse owners promised when slots were approved that they would eventually help shoulder the cost of jockeys’ health insurance.
Senate Bill 695 can be viewed at http://legis.state.la.us/
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