Horses get a helping hand from legislative panel

/ Colorado News Agency
Apr 7th, 2010

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Lawmakers on the House Agriculture Committee today approved a check-off box on Colorado Tax Returns allowing donations to an organization that rescues horses whose owner is no longer able or unwilling to care for the horse.

“Horses are a part of our Western heritage and deserve to be cared for and respected,” Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg told the House Agriculture Committee. The Sterling rancher, a Republican, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 139, which proposes the checkoff.

Sonnenberg said that the checkoff opportunity at tax time, because of its high visibility, is a very effective way to raise funds for causes such as the Unwanted Horse Alliance of Colorado, an animal-rescue operation that would benefit from the bill.

“I think lot of people would be willing to give if they knew how,” said Sonnenberg.

The checkoff would be added to the Colorado individual income tax form as a voluntary contribution, joining numerous other causes already on the form.  The law allows for a limited number of charitable organizations to receive donations through the tax forms for a specified number of years, approved on a case-by-case basis by the legislature.  The checkoff box for the horses would be up for renewal in 2014.

The administrative costs of the Alliance–a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting public and private collaboration and education concerning the welfare, ownership and disposition of unwanted horses–will be paid for out of the donations.  Currently, the administrative duties are covered by volunteers.

Rep. Wes Mckinley, D-Walsh, was the only member of the committee to vote against the checkoff based because he said donations collected from the checkoff shouldn’t be used on administrative costs.

“This is putting money into something that is already working well with volunteers,”’ said McKinley.

Sonnenberg said he thinks that anything that helps the alliance accomplish its goals should be supported.

“I don’t know how much money this will produce, but I think we need to do this,” he said.

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