Madison Square Garden. Photo by wallyg on Flickr.
It was only a little over a month ago when MMA wasn't included in newly-elected New York governor Andrew Cuomo's state budget plans for 2011.
The news prompted UFC President Dana White to say that he was "done predicting" a time frame when it came to the sport being legalized in the Empire State. Hopes were dashed to say the least.
However, promising news has come to light today as a bill to legalize mixed martial arts was overwhelmingly passed by New York's Senate Standing Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation by a vote of 13-1.
Justin Klein has more details:
If last year is any indication, the bill will now go straight to the full Senate for a vote.
The overwhelming support for the bill is a good sign and so is the fact that the bill is through the Tourism Committee this early in the legislative session, i.e. approximately three (3) months before the bill was referred out of the Tourism Committee last year.
While I hesitate to read too much into anything when it comes to New York politics, in my view, the early action on the bill in the Senate (in particular, before the budget process has been resolved) is a step in the right direction.
By the time the bill passed the Senate last year it was near the end of the legislative session, which did not give proponents of legalizing MMA in the Assembly too much time to use that leverage and publicity to work on pushing the bill in the Assembly.
Now, however, if the Senate can pass the bill in April or even early-May, there will be more time to force the issue in the Assembly.
In addition, it was no coincidence that White and a trio of UFC fighters (Renzo Gracie, Frankie Edgar and Matt Hamill) were in Albany today to meet with legislators and hold a press conference promoting the potential legalization of the sport in New York.
Hopefully that went well.
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