You know things are close to happening with MMA in New York because a dozen New York press outlets are suddenly covering the story. Last week the sport cleared the state senate, and this week it’s the assembly’s turn:
UFC officials were scheduled to meet with several lawmakers throughout the day, Epstein said, but not Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan. Silver said last week that he opposes legalizing the sport, but would allow his conference to debate the bill.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Parker, D-Brooklyn, and Assemblyman Steven Englebright, D-Setauket, Suffolk County, faces an uncertain future in the Assembly, however. Democrats, who maintain a large majority in the house, appear to be split on the bill.
“Most of us believe this is a brutal sport,” said Assemblyman Robert Reilly, D-Colonie, who has been one of the Legislature’s most outspoken critics of the sport. “Some of us are willing, however, to legalize it because of the money it brings in, and I find that a pretty horrific type of attitude and position to have, because we’re trying to stop bullying in schools, we’re trying to stop gang violence and domestic violence.”
Assemblymen Kenneth Zebrowski, D-New City, Rockland County, and Jonathan Bing, D-Manhattan, appeared at a press event Monday with UFC representatives, pledging their support for the bill.
“This is a regulated sport. Is it a tough sport? Yes, it’s not golf, no one is going to try and debate that,” Zebrowski said. “But we have a lot of tough sports out there in America, and I don’t see anybody trying to ban any of those.”
Both Zebrowski and Bing said they expect the bill to pass if it comes to the Assembly floor, while Reilly said he expects it would be defeated. It narrowly passed the Senate, 32-29, in a bipartisan vote.
Again with the bullying / gangs / wife beating association? Jeez. What are all the UFC’s lobbyists up in New York state doing? Are they too busy having money fights with the cash Zuffa sent to grease the legislative wheels to swat down even the most pathetic misconceptions of the sport?
You might have also noticed that reports are listing MMA’s chances of getting through the Assembly as ‘iffy.’ Fortunately for us, it’s got a backdoor way into the state: the Governer of New York included us in an emergency budget that has to be approved before these politicians can go on vacation. Go, New York State Budget / Human Cockfighting package, go!
*UPDATE* Zak from Watch Kalib Run points out that yesterday was the last official legislative session day and they’re onto emergency sessions now which might only include that budget thing. It’s all very sketchy as to who’s doing what when and how, so I guess we’ll have to wait until shit actually happens to know what’s going on.
*UPDATE 2* Jackal neitzhe adds:
I actually cover Albany for a NY paper. The legislature is still voting on bills but it is unlikely that the Assembly will vote on this. However, the bill could be made part of any budget deal that is negotiated. On top of that Gov. David Paterson has said that if a budget deal is not reached by June 28 he will send the legislature emergency legislation to keep the state running that includes all of his budget proposals–his budget includes MMA legalization. The legislature would then have to decide whether to shut down state government or vote for Paterson’s bill.