Yesterday afternoon, the New York State Senate passed the bill to sanction mixed martial arts by a vote of 43-14. The vote in favor of seeing the combat sport in the Empire State marks the third consecutive time that the State Senate voted to pass the MMA bill. The rub for the sport remains in the State Assembly, where it must also pass in order for the Governor to sign it into law.
The last two years that the bill passed smoothly through the Senate, it stalled in the Assembly. At no point in those two years was the bill actually defeated in the Assembly, but simply ran out of time in both cases. The 2011 MMA bill died famously, in spite of unprecedented support among the general Assembly, when Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman Farrell used his power of scheduling to keep the bill from being voted on until it was too late.
The committee chair with the most pull in the Assembly, Speaker Sheldon Silver, released a statement regarding the MMA bill where he downplayed the power of the chairs, in spite of scheduling power demonstrably giving them control of the legislative process.
“Members control the process,” said Silver. “The bill is in the legislative process at this point. We have a committee-driven process and we’ll see what happens. There’s a lot of sentiment for it and there’s a lot of sentiment against it.”
Silver also mentioned that he had “mixed feelings” regarding the sport of mixed martial arts. While Silver’s statement was rather non-committal, it is by far the most that the Speaker has said on the topic of MMA. In past years Silver and his office have made every effort to make no official statement. Whether his sudden volunteering of information on the topic speaks well to MMA’s odds in the Assembly this year remains to be seen.