On Tuesday the Maryland Racing Commission voted to move forward in its adoption of medication rules that are uniform with those in other mid-Atlantic states.

That means that as early as September 1, Maryland’s racing rules will allow raceday Lasix only if administered by a state veterinarian (or his designee); prohibit all other raceday medications; limit other medications to an approved list of 24, none of which may be in the horse’s system above a de minimus level on raceday; and require that drug testing be conducted by an accredited laboratory.

How do we get from here to there?  We asked J. Michael Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, that very question.  Here’s the process he outlined:

  1. Maryland Racing Commission staff will draft regulations to enact the rules passed by the Commission.
  2. Those regs are then submitted to the Maryland General Assembly’s Join Committee on Administrative, Executive & Legislative Review (AELR).  According to its website, “Proposed State agency regulations are reviewed by the Committee with regard to the legislative prerogative and procedural due process.”
  3. At the same time, the proposed regs are submitted to the Division of State Documents, which handles the administrative end of enacting regulations.
  4. After two weeks, the proposed regulations are published in the Maryland Register.
  5. For a period of 45 days following publication, the public can comment on the proposed regulations (although, in horse racing matters, they rarely do).
  6. Assuming no glitches, the regulations return to the Commission, which then votes on final adoption.
  7. Once the Commission has adopted the regs in final form, they are published once more and take effect, either in 10 days or on a date certain specified by the Commission.

There’s an old saw that making legislation is like making sausage — a process you’re well served not to witness.  As it turns out, the regulatory process has its own sausagey element, too, though in this case, we have a pretty good idea how it’ll taste when it’s done.