The state House of Representatives voted Tuesday to legalize mixed martial arts, despite some concerns from lawmakers that the sport is particularly brutal.
The bill passed on a bipartisan basis by 117 to 26 with seven members absent.
\”Personally, I\’m not a fan of the sport, but I think the argument regarding the brutality of the sport is precisely the reason why we should be regulating it,\’\’ House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey told reporters after the vote.
\”We\’re one of only two states in the country that does not regulate the sport, so I think we\’re very much out of step where the rest of the country is on this. As the minority leader pointed out, I think we should be erring to the side of regulation as opposed to having a free-for-all on this sport.\’\’
Sharkey said he had not had any conversations with state Senate leaders over whether they will vote on the bill.
\”I don\’t know what the inclinations are in the Senate at this point,\’\’ Sharkey said. \”But given how strong the vote was here in the House, I think that\’s an indication where I think the public is and certainly where our members are. I\’m hoping the Senate will see that as an opportunity.\’\’
The Senate declined to debate the matter last year after leaders said that the sport is extremely violent. A Senate Democratic spokesman said Tuesday that caucus members still had concerns about the violence, but they were open to discussing the issue.