Del. Catherine I. Piley (D-Harford) said today she will introduce a bill in the Maryland General Assembly Wednesday that would ban the use of permissive medication at the state's race tracks.
The drugs involved are Lasix, a diuretic, and phenylbutazone (Bute), a painkiller.
"It's an issue that's been debated in a number of states," Riley said today. "It's a very controversial issue. A study commission came back and decided to keep it the way it was. I just don't see it. It's time our legislature debated the issue."
The study commission to which Riley referred was formed by the Thoroughbred Board of the Maryland Racing Commission after the death of a jockey -- who was thrown from a horse that broke down -- was blamed on the use of permissive drugs.
"I've talked to some people who are supportive. I'd say they are in the minority," Riley said. "I've talked to some other people who aren't sure, but are happy it will be aired in this forum. Some people think the study commission set up by the racing commission was stacked and they (the opponents of Bute and Lasix) didn't get a fair shake."
Riley said the study commission called for maintaining the status quo because "There was no proof to the contrary."
Monday, racing commissioner Ann F. Mahoney called the drug report "a farce," claiming the panel headed by former commissioner Donald Levinson failed to interview the state veterinarian and the state chemist, among others.
Dr. David Paice, the state vet, was quoted by the Baltimore Evening Sun in Monday's editions as saying the use of Bute was abused at state race tracks.
Riley said she was unsure whether her bill would be heard by the Ways and Means Committee, which usually considers racing legislation, or by the Environmental Matters Committee, of which she is a member.
Riley also said she will introduce another bill that would put state vets and stewards completely under state control. As it is now, those employes are paid by the state and the state is then reimbursed by the tracks.
"The way it is now is like putting the fox in the henhouse," she said.