Wednesday, June 11, 2014

From the UG: A Debate Over Who is to Blame Over the Failed MMA Bill


Yeah, so it looks like the MMA bill isn't getting done by the State Assembly this year, and discussion about who is culpable for that sad - yet by now pretty routine - turn of events erupted over at the Underground forum. Some blame Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for the annual impasse. I added my two cents, and I figured it was worth re-posting here.

There are actually two votes in the Assembly that matter - the floor vote, which the entire Assembly takes part of, and the private informal vote in Silver's Democratic Conference that is held every session. The Democratic Conference has only 100 Assembly Democrats in it, and the purpose of the meeting is to hash out what issues they will allow to go to the floor for the big vote.
The MMA bill would likely win a floor vote, as it has enough support from both Democrats and Republicans, but it needs 76 Assemblymen to give it the thumbs up in that private conference, and thus far it's been getting only 60-something votes. This isn't really the fault of Sheldon Silver - he's not treating the issue of MMA in New York any differently than other issues. All bills have to go through the same process. It's just that within that special group of 100 Democrats, there are enough Assemblymen against the sport (or they just don't care about the issue to lend their support) to stop it from progressing any further. This is what Silver is referring to when he says there isn't enough "groundswell" for the MMA bill.
Without question, the Culinary Union has exerted a good bit of influence to hold things up. When the MMA bill was getting stuck in Assemblyman Bob Reilly's committee a few years back, he was getting $30,000+ from them in campaign contributions, and they've definitely given money to others. And they've really blown the whole misogyny thing up to give the anti-MMA legislators something to latch on to. So in that regard, Kirik is not wrong about CU influence.
But Sheldon Silver is more of a part of the "I don't give a fuck" group. It sucks that the vote in the Democratic Conference is holding MMA up, but it's standard operating procedure that issues go through it and not really something you can blame him for. Yeah, he's corrupt and is caught in lies almost daily, but it would actually be really weird if a bill skipped over the whole Democratic Conference phase.
Hope this helps.

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