Tom Lee files greyhound racing ban in Florida - Florida Politics

Tom Lee files greyhound racing ban in Florida

As expected, Constitution Revision Commissioner Tom Lee has filed a constitutional amendment to ban greyhound racing in Florida.

Lee, a state senator from Thonotosassa and a previous Senate president, filed the 2-page proposal late Tuesday, the deadline for commissioners to submit proposed amendments for the state’s governing document.

Lee last month said he had been considering filing such a measure, and gaming industry sources said the senator had called some of the state’s dog track owners to “take their temperature.”

“There is growing recognition that many of these animals live in inhumane conditions, a reality that is out of line with the moral standard of Floridians,” Lee said in a statement.

The amendment as filed would phase out live racing over three years, mandating a one-third reduction in race days in 2019-20 and a two-thirds reduction in 2020-21.

“All dog racing in connection with any wager for money or any other thing of value is prohibited on and after July 1, 2021,” the proposal says.

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“For over a decade, the Legislature has fought to end greyhound racing, but special interests derail the issue every year,” Lee said. “Now is our opportunity to finally end the mistreatment of greyhounds, reduce the amount of gambling in our state, and restore community values.”

Lee’s measure goes beyond the usual “decoupling,” the term for removing provisions in state law requiring dog and horse tracks to run live races if they wish to offer other gambling, such as cardrooms. Under decoupling, tracks could still choose to run dogs.

Efforts to remove the live racing requirement have failed in the Legislature in recent years, including this past session, as lawmakers continually fail to pass comprehensive gambling legislation.

Carey M. Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA Worldwide, called the Lee amendment “a common sense proposal that will have broad support.”

Greyhound racing “is cruel and inhumane,” he said. “According to state records, a racing dog dies every three days at a Florida dog track. Greyhounds endure lives of confinement, and are given dangerous drugs including anabolic steroids. This is an opportunity for the industry to gracefully transition away from greyhound racing.”

On the other hand, Jack Cory, spokesman for the Florida Greyhound Association, said the “proposal is bad for Florida and it is bad for the greyhounds.”

“It would cost over 3,000 Florida jobs, put over 8,000 beautiful greyhounds at risk and create 19 mini-casinos throughout Florida,” he said, referring to other gambling, such as cards, that will continue at pari-mutuel facilities.

The Constitution Revision Commission is formed every 20 years to review and suggest changes to the state constitution.

Any amendments, which it can place directly on the 2018 statewide ballot, still must be OK’d by 60 percent of voters to be added. The commission must wrap up its work by May 10, 2018.

Lee also filed two other amendments, including one to also make the lieutenant governor “Florida’s Chief of Elections, Chief Cultural Officer, State Protocol Officer, head of the Department of State, and (the position) will have the power to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Florida Senate on the final passage of legislation.”

The other amendment would “increase watchdog authority over state contracts and spending” by expanding the powers of the state’s chief financial officer—an office Lee is seeking in 2018.

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

42 Comments

  1. Dear Senator, I have adopted 2 greyhounds: one retired racer age 6 and a non-racer age 12. Both came to me in excellent health, already socialized and very confident greyhounds. Previously I have volunteered with Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions in Tampa. At meet and greets, the greyhounds are clearly a representative of the condition of racers who are newly retired. Sometimes, they have been released from the track a few days before attending a meet and greet. The greyhounds I have witnessed are not a product of a sickly, abused and unhealthy environment. Regulated racing is safer than the unimaginable underground racing. Please go out and obtain your own first hand knowledge of both sides of the argument. Visit kennels at Derby Lane; visit local greyhound adoption groups. Go out and talk to your constituents that represent both sides of the argument.

      1. This is an isolated incident; what do you think could happen with unregulated underground racing of greyhounds?

    1. Yeah Patricia, sure. You’re the voice for greyhounds. You know the truth about what greyhounds are all about and how they should be treated. Give me a break. You’re in it for your own selfish interests and you know it. You’re part of the awful industry and you speak for the industry. Come to think of it, you’ve pretty much lost your own voice.

      1. I am not in the industry nor do I represent it. I have my own opinion from my personal experience of visiting 2 race tracks where I was able to see the dogs up close. They were not fearful nor did they look sickly. I have seen playfulness, wagging tails and lots of human contact. I have witnessed a leg break and someone running out to pick up the dog before the other racers ran over it. If they didn’t care, they would have left the dog on the track rather than put themselves in harm’s way of getting ran over by the other races. My only selfish interest is being about to adopt a retired racer and provide a wonderful life of retirement.

  2. Greyhound racing has been economically dead for years. Everybody, including an increasing number of track owners, knows it. A Constitutional Amendment may be the quickest most efficient way to finally send this so called sport to the trash heap of history.

    I am a Board member of GREY2K USA Worldwide, an organization that fights to save these marvelous creatures all over the globe. (you can learn more about us here: http://www.grey2kusa.org.) I have fostered and adopted rescued racing greyhounds since 1995. I cannot imagine abandoning any of them when they become injured, old or sick and yet this is routinely what happens to them at operating tracks. The day this amendment passes will surely be celebrated as greyhound independence day.
    Fred Barton
    Board Member
    GREY2K USA Worldwide

      1. Or better yet name the 5 you have put your actual hands on….. figured as much ya cant can ya..,

        1. Perry, Rollie, Zeus, Eli, Scooter, Phil, Daisy, Bug, Sera, Woody, and those are ust the ones I adopted. That doesn’t count the ones I’ve fostered, or otherwise helped escape your greyhound gulags.

        2. You are are on the wrong side of history. Greyhound racing days are numbered and there is nothing you can do about it.

          1. How silly you sound. As a citizen, I have a voice and am allowed to express it to encourage my representatives to seek the truth thru first hand knowledge, not decades old information.

  3. That is the best news I have heard in a long time. I have been on the inside of greyhound rescue in Florida for almost two decades and can personally attest to the condition of the dogs that come off of the track and from the breeding farms. There is a reason civilized society does not want to pay money to watch dogs run around a track while risking their lives. They are tired of animals being exploited and abused for human entertainment.

    1. In the last two decades, what improvements have you seen in greyhounds coming into your group? Also what would you like to see change if racing was to continue?

  4. Mr. Barton,
    What will your organization do once regulated raced is no more and underground racing becomes rampant? God help you!!

    1. Patricia, you really are merciless. The news that comes about about their abuse is what’s reported! You have no idea what the abuse entails. These greyhounds are not on this planet for your cheap entertainment. It’s 2017, not 1917. Get with the program. Have a heart. Search within.

    2. Your premise is flawed. In states that have already banned racing there has been noo corresponding rise in illegal racing. There is no reason to think Florida would be any different.

        1. Well what’s obvious right now is you are on the wrong side of history. Why don’t you improve your karma by starting to adopt the 8 month old pups that never make it to the racetrack? Something productive like that.

          1. What 8 mo pups are your referring to? What is your proof to show your statement is valid? Share your story and experience about the 8 mo pups?
            I am currently looking at my own adopted 12 yo girl who never raced and “never made it to the track.” Her name is Lonesome Nurse. What’s your explanation for anti-racing groups who don’t update the greyhound database to show they have received dogs into their adoption program? It makes the dogs look unaccounted for. Don’t they use this to show dogs are “missing?”

          2. She is just a hate monger that doesn’t have a clue- and since her girl Hilary tanked in the election , she had to do the next evil thing and attack racing

  5. I personally enjoy going to the kennel clubs,and enjoy betting on the greyhounds,the dogs I come in contact with are happy,playful and seem excited to be able to chase the rabbit,I support the adoption of retired racing greyhounds and have come across plenty of them,all have looked to me to be in excellent care…..If you don’t like it then don’t go….of course everything in life is not perfect including greyhound racing,but isn’t that the State,s job to make sure they are run properly…you politicians have a lot more problems to worry about like how you all lie and ruin other peoples lives by cheating on your taxes and wasting tax payers money…I say we get rid of all you useless politicians first……

    1. Hey Scott, You sound a bit desperate lashing out like that. How’s it going being on the wrong side of history… even on an issue like animal cruelty? Get over it. And Get over yourself. 🙂

  6. Once Fred outlaws greyhound racing, he can go to the Clinton Foundation -taking donations and doing nothing -ponzi schemes of charities

    1. Michael, way to go with a coherent, intelligent argument. With that kind of attitude, you’ll be sure to get your way with politicians greyhound racing. You probably have no idea how much the greyhound racing lobby bribes politicians. So listen up… It’s 2018. Greyhound racing is gonna be history. Time for you to move on to another issue and try being a little more convincing with your argument. Cynicism doesn’t work in the real world.

      1. Unlike you an ignorant whench, get a life-abortion do worse than dog racing- also the human trafficking masssge parlors that have multiplied in swfl- get your head out of ur butt- or better yet put it back and save your ignorance for someone who cares-and I put my money where my mouth is with my 2 adopted greyhounds- to quote dx and bullet club “I have two words for you, suck it!”

          1. Not even close to the bribes you both get from Indian Gaming- I’m a seasonal worker at track-like the many others that do- what about the workers that need this to provide for their families?I do it out of enjoying racing- so my family is not effected- however others would be- do you think of that before speaking ? Come to Naples’s- I will take you personally to Kennels- the adoption group that volunteers to find home for dogs-and many adopters who do it for nothing- unlike you- Mr Lee for financial gain-again shame on both of you!!! Crooked Hilary would be honored to have you two on board

  7. Saleen why don’t you go stick a peta sign up your butt…and take your own stupid history class..I was just stating my opinion,not wanting to deal with a retard like you

  8. Let’s not miss the point here. There is plenty of divisiveness across the country, so don’t feed it. The mutual goal is to ensure the safety and lives these gentle creatures so deserve. Action, comments and all efforts need to be put toward that. So quit the nonsense and stop hurting each other — cruel words hurt everyone — and remember the goals we ALL want to reach. We need to do it together. It’s about the dogs, and ensuring they live long & healthy lives.

  9. I commend you, Tom Lee, as I do all trailblazers who fight for the welfare of animals.
    It’s the words of James Wildman, that are my measuring stick when determining whether our treatment of animals is ethical. He said, ‘you can’t do anything violent, humanely’. Succinct, and it really is that simple; greyhound racing permanently maims and kills these dogs. All other issues with it aside, that’s the bottom line; putting an end to it is long overdue.

      1. Your statement makes you look foolish, St. Michael. Thanks for opening your mouth, my friend. What’s it like being on the wrong side of history? Please bless us with your wisdom! 🙂

        1. Oh Saleen, on your way to trashing dogracing how many containers of dead babies from abortion clinics and dead animals from humane societies do you pass on the way to hypocrisy?

        2. Saleen, these pro racer’s like to entertain themselves, by spouting off, and showing their buddies what good little soldiers they are, lol. I refuse to engage them, and lower myself to their level. It’s a complete waste of our precious time, to argue anything when greed is being protected. They can spout off all they want; there isn’t anything they can say, that will dampen my spirit. Thanks to Grey2K, and impassioned citizens, greyhound racing and all that stems from it, is in its final days; and that’s all that I care about.

          1. Hi Debra, thanks for your comment. I guess I’m just an elitist from NYC, It’s just dawning on me the horror show good-hearted Floridians have to deal with. We will prevail of course! 🙂

          2. Your two hypocrites from the North who jump on the bandwagon together-FYI I’m from the North, but us soliders are proactive not bs like Fred- I know your girl lost the election- so you now want to end other people’s dream because yours in crushed- get a new hobby-or get laid – it’s needed in both cases- try it , you both won’t be miserable

          3. To a con artist like you – I do understand it’s over your head- sorry you need pictures for the bigger words-

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