Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Senate Passed Their MMA Bill Yesterday - Why This Time Around It's Special


The New York State Senate approved their version of the MMA Bill yesterday by a vote of 48 to 14, making it the eighth time in seven years they've done so (last year they did it twice, with the extra thumbs-up coming after the MMA Bill was overhauled and revised). The Republican-run Senate has never been much of a problem for proponents of the sport - the hold-up has traditionally been in the Assembly, which has yet to vote on their version and whose approval is needed to turn both bills into a law. So big deal, right? The Senate just did what it's always done, and there's nothing to be too thrilled about - right? Not quite. Before you dismiss what happened yesterday as something less than noteworthy, consider the timing of the Senate's actions.

It's February 2 and the 2016 legislative session has only been underway for a few weeks, yet here we are with the MMA Bill already past one of the three necessary hurdles before becoming law (the Assembly vote and the governor's signature are the other obstacles). Last year the Senate didn't get the MMA Bill done until March 24, so today's passage is almost two months ahead of schedule.

This is perhaps the surest sign we have that, since Governor Andrew Cuomo included MMA in his budget proposal, thereby putting a March 31 deadline on things, the legislature is keen on acting on this issue sooner rather than later so they can get it done outside of the budget.

As of right now, the Assembly's version of the bill is nestled in the Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development Committee, where it must pass through before it can be seen by the Ways and Means and Codes Committees and then go to the floor for a vote. Committee Chair Assemblywoman Margaret Markey has yet to reschedule the hearing on injuries in combative sports she announced then postponed in December, but there isn't much fear of her stalling. She has to do what her boss, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, tells her to do, and if he wants the MMA Bill tackled, it gets tackled. The question now, then, is when - when will the Assembly move on it?

Rest assured, I will keep you up to date on that.

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