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Senate Panels OK Reforms To Ky. Horse Park Commission, Fair Board

Sen. Damon Thayer (R) and a constituent argue for Kentucky Horse Park Commission reforms before a Senate panel
Sen. Damon Thayer (R) and a constituent argue for Kentucky Horse Park Commission reforms before a Senate panel

The Kentucky Horse Park Commission would see its membership nearly halved under a bill approved by a Senate Committee Tuesday.

Sen. Damon Thayer (R) and a constituent argue for Kentucky Horse Park Commission reforms before a Senate panel
Credit Josh James / WUKY
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Sen. Damon Thayer (R) and a constituent argue for Kentucky Horse Park Commission reforms before a Senate panel

Sponsor GOP Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer worries political patronage and questionable policy priorities have seeped into the governing body. Under Senate Bill 200, the horse park's board would go from 17 members to 9 with the governor appointing three at-large members who meet specific experience requirements and six from a pool selected by equine-related stakeholder organizations.

While Thayer has called for "depoliticizing" the process, he is adamant the measure does not directly target any appointees of former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear -- who named his wife, former First Lady Jane Beshear, to the Kentucky Horse Park Commission as one of his final gubernatorial actions in December. The GOP leader instead points to mounting constituent complaints about pricing and access, suggesting the park is starting to cater primarily to the elite.

"I think that this is important enough that our new governor and his administration deserve an opportunity to perhaps get a fresh set of eyes on the situation," he tells reporters, adding, "... and there are come people on the horse park [board] now that, if this bill passes, I would urge the governor to reappoint them."

In addition, the Georgetown Republican wants State Auditor Mike Harmon to conduct a full performance audit on the park.

SB200 joins another Senate bill restructuring the Kentucky Fair Board, which also passed out of committee Tuesday. The former could reach the full Senate floor as early as Thursday.

Copyright 2016 WUKY

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now known as Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and Program Director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.