DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad on Friday signed a bill into law that will end greyhound dog racing in Council Bluffs by 2016 and allow an industry trade group to lead races in Dubuque.
Branstad’s office said the governor signed the bill along with more than a dozen others. He had until the end of Saturday to make a decision on the legislation, which was being followed closely by affected casinos and industry leaders.
The measure will end greyhound racing in Council Bluffs but allow the Iowa Greyhound Association to continue operating a track in Dubuque. It requires casinos that have long-subsidized the dog racing tracks to pay $72 million. That will pay for a retirement fund for dog owners and breeders and help fund the Greyhound Association’s effort to operate the races.
The legislation doesn’t specify how the money would be distributed to greyhound owners but notes that anyone who earned racing purse payments from 2010 to 2014 would be eligible for payments. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission will have authority to establish a payment process.
The bill gained traction this legislative session after board members for the association negotiated an agreement with casinos that have spent millions of dollars a year subsidizing the industry in the state. Some breeders have expressed concern over how payments will be distributed. Brian Ohorilko, the gaming commission’s administrator, said they’ll allow the public to comment on a payment process before one is finalized.
Branstad had previously expressed some reservation about the measure, saying it could impact Iowa’s horse industry.
Branstad signed five bills publicly Friday, including legislation that legalizes the use of cannabis oil to treat severe epilepsy and another that lessens the penalties for people who unknowingly expose someone to HIV.