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Mar 17, 2014 1:23 AM by Nathan O'Neal

Bill could undermine local efforts to regulate greyhound racing

TUCSON - A new bill making its way through the Arizona Legislature could essentially void local laws involving greyhound racing.

Senate Bill 1282 covers a variety of specific changes to the current law when it comes to racing horses and greyhounds in Arizona. However, one provision of the legislation has critics of greyhound racing worried it could undermine local efforts to curb controversial practices.

The City of Tucson adopted an ordinance to prevent steroid injections into dogs in 2013.

"That's why they tried to pass that ordinance in Tucson to prohibit some of the things that went on there including keeping the females medicated so that they wouldn't go into heat -- very dangerous to give them those kinds of hormones," said Nancy Young Wright of the Humane Society's Arizona State Council.

Tucson Greyhound Park is the only dog-racing track in the state and it already receives tax breaks from lawmakers.

Senate Bill 1282 asserts state authority when it come to racing, indicating that any rules adopted by state agencies preempt all local laws and ordinances related to horse and greyhound racing. Read the full bill here.

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik has wanted the track to close for years. He said there is a striking conflict of interest in this bill considering that the Department of Racing -- which regulates the track -- also gets its funding directly from the track's success.

Kozachik fears this proposed bill would grant the agency even more power.

"They're saying the City of Tucson, City of South Tucson, any jurisdiction ... You don't have a voice in this anymore," Kozachik told News 4 Tucson, adding: "I'm telling them we absolutely have a voice in it and we're going to continue to exercise our rights and say you need to care a little more about the animal welfare that happens out of the track instead of who's funding your campaigns and who's funding your agency."

News 4 Tucson reached out to the Tucson Greyhound Park for comment on this story. However, our calls have not been returned.

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