ALBANY - Legalizing mixed martial arts bouts in New York still has a fighting chance.
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle (D-Rochester) said Wednesday he's going to push the measure through the extra days of the legislative session, which may end late Thursday.
Morelle, who is sponsoring the bill, said he's still trying to firm up the 76 Democratic votes needed to assure passage in the Assembly before the bill is allowed to the floor for a vote.
Compounding the difficulty, however, is the late session itself. He said several members who had expected the session to end one week ago as planned are attending previously scheduled events and meetings back in their district.
The Senate approved a bill in March and bill sponsor Sen. Joseph Griffo (R-Utica) agreed to changes with Morelle needed for support in the Democrat-led Assembly. If the amended bill passes, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law.
There have been sharp divisions over the years within the Assembly's Democratic majority. Many members from New York City found the sport barbaric. Supporters, led by the Senate's Republican majority, said the sport has become safer with rule changes in recent years and could be an economic boost when events are held in New York.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship league that runs the sport has been a major lobbying force and campaign contributor in Albany for years.
Meanwhile, the Assembly and Senate are drafting legislation to match a "framework" of a deal that will end the session with major issues tied together in what Albany calls a "big ugly."