The Assembly Democratic conference discussed behind closed doors whether to bring a bill to legalize mixed martial arts in New York before Speaker Sheldon Silver determined the votes weren’t there for it to pass.
“It will not come to the floor this year,” Silver told the Daily News afterward.
The conference, he said, “was pretty evenly divided.”
Silver didn’t rule out passage in the next year or two.
“I think it’s evolving,” he said. “I don’t think two years ago it was a 50-50 proposition.”
Assemblyman Micah Kellner (D-Manhattan) expressed disappointment at the decision.
“This is legal in [most] states, it’s highly regulated and it generates economic activities for small business and creates much needed revenue for the state,” Kellner said.
Queens Democratic Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, a self-proclaimed fan of the controversial sport, dismissed talk of the violence played up by detractors.
“Mixed martial arts is an art form,” she said. “I don’t believe there is inherent violence in it.”
The decision not to bring the bill to the floor helped highlight a growing split between younger members of the Assembly and older lawmakers, insiders said.
“Shelly is still siding with a dwindling number of aging veterans,” one source in the room griped.
The source said after eight people had spoken in favor of legalizing MMA and eight against, Silver called on members who don’t support the bill to raise their hands. About 25 members did.
Then he asked for a show of hands of those who support it before saying that it looked even, the source said.
An upstate member who supports the measure complained it didn’t look even to her, the source said. When Silver asked what she wanted, a city Democrat joked, a “slow roll call.”
The speaker took another informal vote, with 25 again raising their hands against. The “ayes” seemingly had more than 60, the source said.
Silver then said others had expressed opposition privately and that the votes weren’t there to move the bill.
A “very, very disappointed” Marc Ratner, vice president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, said he was looking for was an up-or-down vote.
“I feel 150% if we had a vote on the floor of the Assembly we would win,” Ratner said. “Not to get a vote is un-American.”