The road to regulation of Mixed Martial Arts in New York state has proven to be a long one, and despite extraordinary efforts by fans and the UFC, it may be a little longer still.
Now there are reports that the failure of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to pass the MMA bill despite widespread support for the bill is due to his mishandling of the sexual harassment scandal around fellow Dem Vito Lopez (Brooklyn).
Kenneth Lovett from the NY Daily News has the story.
The drive to legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York is likely to become a new casualty of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal.
Women’s groups that have long opposed the sport, calling it sexist and barbaric, are upset at Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for his mishandling of sexual harassment complaints against Lopez.
A source close to Silver said passing a mixed martial arts law now might further inflame the women’s groups — as well as exacerbate tensions between Silver and several assemblywomen that have developed since the scandal.
“I don’t think this is the year,” the source said. “I think it’s unlikely.”
Lopez (D-Brooklyn) resigned from the Assembly last week after two investigations accused him of inappropriate conduct toward eight female staffers.
The investigations also faulted Silver (D-Manhattan), finding that he signed off on a secret $103,000 settlement to two of the women rather than refer their harassment complaints to an ethics committee, as required by Assembly rules.
New York and Connecticut remain the only two states that ban MMA. The state Senate has repeatedly voted to legalize the sport, only to see the Legislation die in the Democratic-controlled Assembly.
During a closed-door discussion last year, Silver cut off debate and called it a draw even though the bulk of those who spoke supported the bill, sources said. The bill never reached the floor for a vote.
But promoters of the controversial sport seemed to be making headway this year in getting New York to lift its ban, especially after Gov. Cuomo said in March that “It’s something we’re looking at as a possible source of revenue.”
Silver is expected to discuss the matter with his Democratic members next week. “The question is does he do what he did last year or does he play it straight?” said one MMA supporter.
One factor may be that opponents feel more strongly about the issue than supporters, sources said. Some of those opponents are close to Silver, such as Assemblywoman Deborah Glick of Manhattan.
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