09.10.04.21

.21 Procedures for Challenging the Commission's Recognition of Certain Organizations.

A. Purpose. The purpose of this regulation is to set forth the procedures for resolving a challenge to the recognition of an organization by the Commission as the representative of a certain segment of the racing industry in the State, considering that certain sections of Business Regulation Article, Title 11, Annotated Code of Maryland, require the:

(1) Consent of certain organizations; and

(2) Distribution of funds to a certain organization.

B. Petition.

(1) An organization may petition the Commission for recognition as the organization representing a majority of the:

(a) Harness owners and trainers licensed in the State;

(b) Thoroughbred owners and trainers licensed in the State;

(c) Harness breeders in the State; or

(d) Thoroughbred breeders in the State.

(2) In order for the Commission to act on any petition submitted under §B(1) of this regulation, an organization shall submit evidence demonstrating that at least 15 percent of the individuals in the applicable segment of the racing industry support the petition.

(3) The evidence submitted under §B(2) of this regulation, for each individual supporting the petition, shall consist of the individual's:

(a) Printed name;

(b) Signature; and

(c) License number issued by the Commission for the current year, if applicable.

C. Action by the Commission.

(1) Upon receipt of the petition, the Commission shall:

(a) Provide notice that a petition has been received by the Commission to:

(i) The petitioner,

(ii) The organization currently recognized as representing a majority of that segment of the racing industry, and

(iii) Other interested parties, if any; and

(b) Verify the status of the individuals who have signed in support of the petition.

(2) If the Commission determines that the petition contains the required number of valid signatures, it shall announce at a public meeting:

(a) That the Commission will conduct an election to determine which organization is to be recognized by the Commission as representing a majority of that segment of the racing industry; and

(b) The dates that the Commission sets regarding the mailing, return, and counting of the ballots.

(3) The dates set by the Commission under §C(2)(b) of this regulation may be changed by the Commission, and the organizations involved shall be promptly informed of the new dates and the reasons for the change.

D. If an election is announced, funds accruing to the organization currently recognized as representing that segment of the racing industry, either by law or by contract, may be held in escrow from the date the election is announced until the date the result of the election is determined.

E. Ballots.

(1) Ballots shall be printed and mailed by the Commission.

(2) The ballots shall:

(a) Be sequentially numbered;

(b) Contain:

(i) The name of the individual eligible to vote,

(ii) The names of the competing organizations in alphabetical order and a selection block next to the name of each organization, and

(iii) A signature line;

(c) Set forth the date by which the ballot must be returned;

(d) Inform the individual eligible to vote that a ballot is not counted if the:

(i) Individual is not currently licensed,

(ii) Individual's application for renewal, accompanied by the appropriate fees, is received by the Commission after the deadline set by the Commission for the return of a ballot,

(iii) Ballot is not signed by the individual, or

(iv) Indication of the selected organization is not clear; and

(e) Request any other information the Commission may consider appropriate.

(3) If the election is in regard to an owners' and trainers' organization for a certain breed of horse, a ballot shall be sent to the following for the breed of horse involved:

(a) Each owner and trainer licensed in the State during the current year, up to and including the day the election is announced; and

(b) If the election is announced before June 30th of the current year, each owner and trainer licensed in the State on December 31st of the previous year who is not yet licensed for the current year.

(4) If the election is in regard to a breeders' organization, §E(2)(d)(i) and (ii) of this regulation does not apply, and:

(a) If the election is for a standardbred breeders' organization, a ballot shall be sent to each individual recognized by the administrator of the breeding program as the owner or lessee of a:

(i) Dam at the time of breeding that had any of its produce registered with that program in the last 2 calendar years,

(ii) Stallion that has been registered with the Advisory Committee as a Maryland stallion and stood in Maryland during the latest breeding season, or

(iii) Dam that was bred in Maryland within the last 2 calendar years to a stallion registered with the Advisory Committee as a Maryland stallion; or

(b) If the election is for a thoroughbred breeders' organization, a ballot shall be sent to each individual who registered a horse in the Maryland Bred Registry at least once in the last 3 calendar years.

(5) The mailing date of the ballots may not be later than 30 days after the public meeting of the Commission at which an election is announced.

(6) The deadline for the return of the ballots may not be less than 15 days after the mailing date.

(7) When a ballot is returned to the Commission, it shall be verified against the mailing list of eligible voters and the corresponding ballot number.

F. A ballot sent to an individual qualified to receive a ballot under the provisions of §E(3)(b) of this regulation may not be counted unless the individual becomes licensed before the date the ballots are to be returned as set by the Commission under §C(2)(b) of this regulation.

G. Ballot Count.

(1) Following the close of business on the date set by the Commission for the return of the ballots, the staff of the Commission shall promptly count the ballots.

(2) The Commission shall provide adequate notice to each competing organization of:

(a) The date, time, and place the ballots will be counted; and

(b) The ability of a representative from each of the competing organizations to be present for the counting of the ballots.

(3) The organization receiving a majority of the votes properly cast shall be designated as the organization representing a majority of that segment of the racing industry.

H. Confidentiality.

(1) Except as provided in this regulation, the vote of an individual shall be kept confidential.

(2) The Commission shall make available for inspection a:

(a) List of those individuals to whom the ballots were mailed; and

(b) Current list of those individuals who voted.

I. Challenges.

(1) An individual wishing to challenge any aspect of the election procedure shall file a written statement to that effect with the Commission within 5 business days of the occurrence about which the individual objects.

(2) A statement filed in accordance with §I(1) of this regulation shall:

(a) Contain the specifics of the challenge; and

(b) Establish, in the discretion of the Commission, a prima facie showing that this regulation has been violated.

(3) If the Commission determines that:

(a) There is a prima facie showing that this regulation has been violated, the Commission shall schedule a hearing and give notice to all interested parties; or

(b) There is not a prima facie showing that this regulation has been violated, the Commission shall deny the challenge.

(4) At a hearing convened under §I(3)(a) of this regulation, the validity of the challenge shall be determined by the Commission.

(5) The Commission may, in its discretion, stay the operation of the election until the challenge is finally decided.

J. Funds.

(1) If a timely challenge has been received, the Commission may order that the escrow of funds, as provided under §D of this regulation, continue, pending a final decision on the challenge.

(2) Any funds held in escrow shall be released to the winning organization after the counting of the ballots if:

(a) A timely challenge has not been received by the Commission; or

(b) The Commission has denied all challenges.

K. The Commission's recognition of an organization as representing a majority of a certain segment of the racing industry may not be challenged within 365 days of the time recognition becomes final.