Monday, May 19, 2014

Would MMA Lose a Floor Vote in the Assembly?


An editorial in the Albany Times-Union today is calling for the State Assembly to allow the MMA bill to the floor for a vote, with the presumption that it will lose such a vote if it were to happen.

Given the amount of support the sport has by both the Democrats and the Republicans, it's long been asserted that if the Assembly's MMA bill were to finally escape committee it wouldn't be long before it was made into law. Suggesting otherwise kind of flies in the face of basic math and logic...

Promoters of professional mixed martial arts contend that after years of kicking and fighting to legalize the controversial sport in New York, they now have enough votes in the state Assembly to pass a bill legalizing the practice.
Perhaps so. Then again, perhaps not. Whatever the case, it's time the Assembly stopped dragging this out. It should hold a vote — and vote it down once and for all.
The editorial does provide some insight into the process that has kept the bill on ice year after year - namely, the closed-door Democratic Conference meeting where a few of the bill's opponents have repeatably been able to bog the piece of legislation down in red tape.
The Assembly's MMA bill has fallen victim to a common flaw in the way legislative bodies operate. Influential members of the majority, often catering to powerful lobbyists, can block a floor vote and cause a bill die in committee.
This has been the fate of many worthy pieces of legislation on both the state and national level. Albany's residential permit parking system languished in committee for years, blocked by state employee unions, before it was finally approved. An enlightened and just federal immigration reform bill has been stalled in the House of Representatives. Both sides of the aisle engage in this practice.
The editorial goes on to take make a morality argument against allowing the sport in New York - which is all well and good, but I'm still not totally convinced this is some form of trolling. Who in their right mind thinks the MMA bill would lose a vote?
We are unpersuaded. A similar economic argument might well be made for cockfighting, but as a society we've made a qualitative choice to say the money isn't worth the moral cost. MMA as practiced professionally is excessively brutal. As for the comparison to football and boxing, we're learning more and more about the serious long-term damage those sports can have on human beings.
However, we also believe the legislative bottleneck should be cleared and the Assembly should hold an up-and-down vote on its legalization.
And when it does, professional mixed martial arts should go down for the count, fair and square.
Okay, buddy. Whatever you say.

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