One down, three to go.
The New York State Assembly's Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development committee today passed a bill to regulate the sport of MMA in the Empire State.
The bill, titled A04146A, passed by a vote of 16-3, according to a representative from the office of its sponsor, New York Assemblyman Steven Englebright.
However, several hurdles remain before the bill becomes law. With just seven days left on the Assembly's legislative calendar, it must clear several hurdles to get a vote on the floor.
The bill first will head to the assembly's Codes Committee, which addresses the legal ramifications of legislation. Next it goes to the Ways and Means Committee, which addresses bills with financial implications. Finally, it heads to the Rules Committee, which oversees the activities of the assembly floor.
If all goes well, the bill then will get a vote on the assembly floor. A senate companion to A04146A passed late this past month by a margin of 42-18.
For two years running, bills to regulate MMA have died in the assembly. In this past year's session, then-Governor David Paterson attempted to work around the impasse by including language to legalize the sport in his 2010 budget proposal. But the language was removed before the proposal went to a vote. Englebright pointed to a division among his fellow assembly Democrats as the culprit.
Democratic assemblyman Bob Reilly, of course, has been an outspoken opponent of current MMA legislation, and it's believed that assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, who decides which bills get a vote on the floor, is aligned with Reily in opposition to the sport.
"If we were able to get it to the floor, we'd probably pass it with Republican votes," Englebright said. "But there is a desire, I think, on the part of many of the members of our Democratic majority to resolve this matter satisfactorily within our own [party] before submitting it to the uncertainties of a debate."
Current Governor Andrew Cuomo elected not include language to regulate MMA in his 2011 budget proposal. The snub, which came after a $75,000 donation to Cuomo's election campaign by the UFC, prompted UFC president Dana White to throw up his hands on predicting when the sport will be regulated in New York.
"It's just one of those things," he said. "At the end of the day, do we really need New York? No. But New York should be open. We should be able to do it."