New York Senate Moves Toward Joining Rules Compact

Anne M. Eberhardt

Measure faces an uncertain fate on the New York Assembly side.

The New York State Senate is poised to enact legislation to enter the Mid-Atlantic Interstate Equine Drug Testing Compact, an effort to streamline model rule-making across the participating states.

A measure proposed by Sen. Joseph Addabbo—a Queens Democrat and chairman of the Senate’s racing, wagering, and gaming committee—has moved out of the committee process and could be ready for a vote on the floor as soon as next week.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed the same compact adoption measure in January in his state budget, but the effort did not make it into the final fiscal plan adopted April 1.

The legislation faces an uncertain fate in the Assembly, where there is no “same-as” bill introduced yet to match Addabbo’s bill. The New York Legislature’s 2019 session is set to end June 19.

Rob Williams, the acting executive director of the New York State Gaming Commission, said the Cuomo administration hopes 2019 will be the year New York joins the compact. Maryland last year became the first state to join, followed by Delaware. Others are still considering the idea.

“It goes to uniformity across jurisdictions,” Williams said this week.

“One of the things we have strived for on a regional basis … is to ensure that there are processes to ensure regulations, penalties, thresholds, etc., are as consistent as they can be to make barriers for horsemen moving from one jurisdiction to another as reduced as we can,” Williams said. “The Mid-Atlantic Compact would help advance that cause by allowing for a more streamlined process for many of the states that have difficulty in navigating their legislative or regulatory hurdles in achieving those types of goals.”

A Senate memo from Addabbo in support of the legislation states that the compact is intended to implement model drug, medication, and lab testing rules for the Thoroughbred industry and try to reduce the hodgepodge of rules across the states. The “fragmented” way rules are adopted can range, for instance, from West Virginia, where the Legislature must approve equine drug regulations in a process that can take a year or more, to Pennsylvania, where a far quicker process exists, the memo states.

“This bill, which needs legislative adoption by each state intending to participate in the compact, would allow each of the participating states to propose, consider, adopt, and implement model rules and policies for Thoroughbred racing at the same time,” the memo added.

The Addabbo legislation, as well as the version Cuomo proposed this year, lays out the system under which an interstate compact commission would be created and operate; it states that model rules would only be adopted if they have been studied or adopted by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the Association of Racing Commissioners International. Model rules would advance only if 80% of participating compact states agree, and the future rules would still have to be adopted by participating member states in order to take effect. 

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