Monday, April 27, 2015

Democratic Conference to Discuss MMA in New York Tonight


The New York State Assembly's Democratic Conference will meet tonight, and it's expected that the closed-door session will involve quite a bit of discussion pertaining to the merits of legalizing mixed martial arts. In other words, tonight is the night when we'll learn if 2015 is the year the MMA bill gets passed.

Here are some facts about what's going on:

  • The Democratic Conference has traditionally been where the MMA bills die, and this has been attributed to the leadership of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Speaker Silver required at least 76 votes for the bill to get through the conference, which was an impossible number to reach given the amount of sway he had over Assembly members. His replacement, Speaker Carl Heastie hasn't yet declared a specific minimum number of votes as a requirement, but his legislative leanings (he's an MMA supporter), and the new math Silver's exit has created, means 76 might not be the cutoff. It could be much less.
  • According to an informal poll by Capital New York, a majority of conference members are in favor of the MMA bill.
  • In prior years, the opposition has argued that MMA should be kept out of New York because it's bad for women. That tact has changed - probably due to UFC champ Ronda Rousey pressing flesh with everyone from Governor Andrew Cuomo to talk show host Jimmy Fallon on the issue. Now the opposition is trying to downplay the economic impact sanctioned MMA would bring into the state. According to Senator Liz Krueger, "...The top cage fighting company is a financially shaky entity fraught with liabilities that seriously call into question the promised revenues from legalization in New York... I may not be a gambler, but considering the disgusting culture of violence, the long-term medical risks, and now the UFC’s financial struggles, they sound like a losing bet to me."
  • One of three things will happen tonight: The MMA bill will die in conference, The MMA bill will pass through the conference and be scheduled for a floor vote (or a path through various committees) at a later date, or it will pass through the conference and immediately go to the floor for a vote. As there is a lot of bipartisan support for the bill, it's pretty much a given that if it were to go to the floor for a vote it will surely pass.
  • It is not unprecedented for a big issue to pass through conference and immediately go to the floor for a vote, so there is the possibility that we'll go to bed and wake up tomorrow with an MMA bill that passed through the Assembly.
  • In terms of the specifics of how the bill is written and its potential effect on amateur MMA, even if the Assembly passes the bill tonight, there's still time to get the bill slightly altered. Time only runs out when the governor signs it into a law.

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