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ASHA Meets with Lawmakers on Safe Sport

US Equestrian CEO Bill Moroney, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, ASHA President David Mount, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue & ASHA Executive Director Terri Dolan

ASHA leaders last week met with lawmakers as part of our organization’s commitment to the safety of our youth, and to address concerns about the U.S. Center for SafeSport.
“We strongly support what the Safe Sport Act represents for the protection of our junior exhibitors,” said ASHA president David Mount. “We also firmly believe the enforcement of this law through the U.S. Center for SafeSport can be significantly improved to better protect youth while providing fair processes to our members.”
As part of ASHA’s ongoing work on this important issue, Mount; ASHA Executive Director Terri Dolan; and newly elected ASHA Board member Helena Moreno, president of the New Orleans City Council and First Division councilmember-at-large, met with several influential U.S. officials to push for improvements in Safe Sport.
Moreno, who also is a former Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, arranged a conference call between ASHA and Rep. Diana DeGette’s (D-CO) office Monday, July 1, to discuss the congresswomen’s proposed bipartisan bill (HR3303) to establish a commission on the state of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics.  Sen. Corey Gardner (R-­CO) has sponsored identical legislation (SB132) in the Senate.
During Monday’s call, Moreno, Dolan and Mount discussed the legislation with DeGette’s policy director, Matthew Allen.  They learned that the commission created through the legislation would have nine months to evaluate, among other things, how responsive the national governing bodies are to its athletes, and whether the U.S. Center for SafeSport has the funding and staff it needs to effectively respond to any future reports of harassment and sexual assault.
ASHA also relayed its concerns about the Center’s lack of communication, due process, and the need for clear guidelines.  Without these elements, there is mistrust in the system, which ultimately hurts the victims the law is designed to protect.
“This legislation is an opportunity to overhaul the 41-year-­old Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act along with the Safe Sport Act of 2017,” Mount said. “The goal is to make it more relevant and responsive to the current needs of both Olympic and amateur athletes,” Mount said.
The next day, July 2, Mount and Dolan invited Bill Moroney, CEO of the United States Equestrian Federation, to meet with senior U.S Senator and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.  The agenda focused not only on the bipartisan legislation to create a commission on the state of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics, but also to review the Horse Protection Act.
Mount presented a letter to Sen. McConnell urging him to expedite the passing of SB132, which would create the commission mentioned above.  The ASHA will schedule a follow-­up meeting with McConnell and his staff to further discuss the legislation and other issues important to the Saddlebred industry.
Mount also presented a letter to Secretary Perdue, urging him to publish the final ruling regarding the Horse Protection Act regulations on soring and to begin enforcement in accordance with the new changes.  He and Dolan noted that the rule is much needed and important to horse welfare protection.
“The successful lobbying effort with USEF to protect our trotting breeds is a template for how we can work together to lobby for necessary change in Safe Sport,” Mount said.  “We will continue to be proactive and work with legislators and others on behalf of our members to address their concerns while making our industry safe for all participants, both human and equine.”   

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