The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association recently honored Pennsylvania State Senator Vince Hughes (D-7th District) and State Senator Joe Scarnati (R-25th District) with Special Recognition Awards for 2012.

“Each year the MSOA recognizes elected officials that have worked and spoken on behalf of the harness racing industry,” said MSOA Executive Director Kim Hankins. “This year, with the help of past winners, State Senator Tim Solobay (D-46th District) and State Representative Brandon Neuman (D-48th District), the MSOA selected Senator Vince Hughes, the Democratic Appropriations Chair, and Senate President Pro-Tem Joe Scarnati. All four men were instrumental in helping to defeat a proposed major cut to racing funds and preserve our industry.”

The proposed Commonwealth budget included $72 million in cuts from the Race Horse Development Fund in early 2012, but when the budget was approved on June 30, only $5 million was diverted, all of which will benefit the PA State Farm Products Show Fund and Pennsylvania’s Fair Fund.

“When (State Senator Solobay) explained to me what was going on with this particular issue,” said Hughes, “I said, let’s go to bat, let’s go to work, and when I have to go into that room, I’ll make sure that we get this thing done. It was tenuous at times, but we fought the battle all the way to the end, and we did win. That is an example of two folks from two very different communities working on an issue that has a central focus on jobs and keeping people working and growing an industry.”

Scarnati was unable to attend the award ceremony.