On February 16, 2010, the Iowa Senate unanimously passed (with two Senators absent) Senate File 2286--a bill to regulate amateur and professional mixed martial arts matches. There were two notable amendments to the bill between its previous approval by the Committee on Business and Labor Relations and its approval by the full Senate.
First, the definition of "mixed martial arts match" was changed from one that is just "open to the public" to also requiring "payment of an admission fee" or donations requested from those in attendance. This prevents, for example, a training match at a jiu-jitsu school from falling under the auspices of the bill. The second change was that the minimum age for competing in a mixed martial arts event was changed from 21 to 18.
Senator William A. Dotzler, Jr. should be commended for listening to concerns that promoters and fighters had about the earlier version of the bill, and for submitting the above amendments prior to the full Senate vote. Iowa Athletic Commissioner David Neil also deserves kudos for listening to concerns and helping craft language to address them.
The bill still has to be passed by the House, but the 48-0 Senate vote certainly gives it a lot of momentum. Although MMA has long been "legal" in Iowa, if the bill ultimately becomes law, Iowa will finally recognize and be able to regulate MMA as independent sport rather that shoehorning it into existing regulations governing "shootfighting."
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