The bill to legalize mixed martial arts in New York passed a vote by the state Assembly’s committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development on Monday afternoon.
The vote was 16-3, with two Assembly members absent. The bill now goes to the Codes Committee, said Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue), a proponent of the sport. Should it pass that committee this week, Murray said the bill will goes to the Ways and Means Committee, a place MMA has yet to beat.
The three “No” votes were from Bob Reilly (D-Colonie), MMA’s most vocal opponent, John McEneny (D-Albany) and Daniel O’Donnell (D-Manhattan).
“I’m extremely encouraged, especially since two of the people who voted against it last time voted for it this time,” Murray said. “They’re starting to realize it’s not so bad.”
Those two Assembly members who changed their vote this time around were Aileen Gunther (D-Monticello) and Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro).
Murray told Newsday last week that if the bill can clear the hurdles in Assembly committees and a full Assembly vote, he is confident Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would sign the bill into law.
Murray said he has spoken to Cuomo at least three times on the topic of mixed martial arts being legalized in New York State. “And what he said was, ‘Dean, if you get it to my desk, I’ll sign it.’” Murray said.
Naturally, the folks at Zuffa LLC, parent company to UFC and Strikeforce, are happy about Monday's vote.
“We want to thank Chairman Englebright and the members of the Assembly Tourism committee for their overwhelming vote in favor of MMA regulation," UFC co-owner and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said in a statement. "Coming on the heels of the Senate's 42-18 vote in favor last month, we urge the Assembly leadership to allow a full Assembly floor vote before the session ends. The fastest growing sport in the country belongs in the Empire State."
This legislative session is scheduled to end on Monday, June 20.