By: Tom LaMarra
The West Virginia Racing Commission intends to examine its options in regard to facilitating quicker adoption of national model rules, in particular those related to equine medication and drug testing.
West Virginia thus far has been among the more proactive states when it comes to the National Uniform Medication Program, which it has adopted in full. The state was part of early meetings led by the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association that resulted in passage of uniform rules for Thoroughbred racing in all states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the U.S.
But under the current system, the WVRC, like regulatory agencies elsewhere, has to wait for the legislature to act. Regulations and rules—even those that may only bring existing ones in line with the latest industry standards—are submitted each year by a specific deadline and not acted upon until the legislative session the following year.
The WVRC, in part in response to a request from the Charles Town Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, on Jan. 10 said it will address the issue at an upcoming meeting.
Kelli Talbott, Senior Deputy Attorney General for the WVRC, said she and commission Executive Director Joe Moore have been discussing the situation as part of an overall legislative agenda for the commission.
“If we started today by putting out a rule for public comment, we’re looking at 2018 (to have it in place) unless we were able to get the legislature to exempt us from the rulemaking process or by filing an emergency rule with the Secretary of State, who would then decide if it’s an emergency or not,” Talbott said. “Believe me, we’ve thought long and hard about this. If the commission wants to pursue other avenues, I’m fine with that. But most of the options would require legislative approval.”
Talbott also mentioned another option: the renewed push by the Association of Racing Commissioners International for states to approve compacts by which racing rules would be automatically adopted. Bill Phillips, who represents the WVRC on the ARCI board of directors, said he has “a couple of thoughts” on the matter and will make them part of the discussion.
The ARCI board Dec. 9, 2016, approved a revamped Multiple Medication Violation Penalty System and a much broader out-of-competition testing rule. The Maryland Racing Commission Dec. 20 became the first to adopt the MMV system revisions, which under an emergency provision will be in effect early this year.