BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                            



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                                    THIRD READING


          Bill No:  AB 1186
          Author:   Bonilla (D), et al.
          Amended:  8/12/13 in Senate
          Vote:     27 - Urgency

           
           SENATE BUSINESS, PROF. & ECON. DEVEL. COMM.  :  10-0, 8/19/13
          AYES:  Lieu, Emmerson, Block, Corbett, Galgiani, Hernandez,  
            Hill, Padilla, Wyland, Yee

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE :  Senate Rule 28.8

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  Not relevant


           SUBJECT  :    State Athletic Commission

           SOURCE  :     Author


           DIGEST  :    This bill clarifies that the California State  
          Athletic Commission (CSAC) is authorized to regulate all forms  
          of full contact martial arts contests involving participants 18  
          years of age or younger, including all forms and combinations of  
          forms of full contact martial arts contests deemed by CSAC to be  
          similar, and that an amateur contest includes a contest where  
          full contact is used, even if unintentionally.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing federal law, the Muhammad Ali Boxing  
          Reform Act (Federal Boxing Act) prohibits events from taking  
          place in a state without a regulatory commission unless the  
          fight is regulated by either another state's commission or on  
          sovereign tribal land.  
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          Existing state law:

          1. The Boxing Act, or State Athletic Commission Act (State Act),  
             provides for the licensing and regulation of boxers,  
             kickboxers, martial arts athletes and events held in  
             California by CSAC within the Department of Consumer Affairs  
             (DCA) and makes CSAC inoperative and repealed on January 1,  
             2014.

          2. Provides that the terms "contest" and "match" are synonymous,  
             may be used interchangeably, include boxing, kickboxing, and  
             martial arts exhibitions, and mean a fight, prizefight,  
             boxing contest, pugilistic contest, kickboxing contest,  
             martial arts contest, or sparring match, between two or more  
             persons, where full or partial contact is used or intended  
             that may result or is intended to result in physical harm to  
             the opponent.  Provides that in any exhibition or sparring  
             match, the opponents are not required to use their best  
             efforts.

          3. Defines the following terms:  

             A.    "Martial arts" means any form of karate, kung fu, tae  
                kwon-do, kickboxing or any combination of full contact  
                martial arts, including mixed martial arts (MMA), or  
                self-defense conducted on a full contact basis where a  
                weapon is not used.

             B.    "Kickboxing" means any form of boxing in which blows  
                are delivered with the hand and any part of the leg below  
                the hip, including the foot.

             C.    "Full contact" means the use of full unrestrainted  
                physical force in a martial arts contest.

             D.    "Light contact" means the use of controlled martial  
                arts techniques whereby contact to the body is permitted  
                in a restrained manner, no contact to the face is  
                permitted, and no contact is permitted which may result or  
                is intended to result in physical harm to the opponent. 

             E.   "Noncontact" means that no contact occurs between either  
             contestant.

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          4. Provides that no person under the age of 18 years shall  
             participate as a contestant in any contest or match or  
             exhibition, except that any person 16 years or over may be  
             licensed as an amateur and may participate in an amateur  
             contest or match.  

          This bill:

          1. Removes "partial contact" from the definition of a "contest"  
             or "match."

          2. Clarifies that "full contact" means the use of full  
             unrestrained physical force in a martial arts contest that  
             may result, or is intended to result, in physical harm to the  
             opponent, including any contact that does not meet the  
             definition of light contact or noncontact.

          3. Removes "permitted body contact in a restrained manner" from  
             the definition of "light contact."

          4. Clarifies that an amateur contest or match includes a contest  
             or match where full contact is used, even if unintentionally.

          5. Specifies that an amateur contest or match does not include  
             light contact karate, tae kwon-do, judo, or any other light  
             contact martial arts as approved by CSAC and recognized by  
             the International Olympic Committee as an Olympic sport.

          6. Clarifies that CSAC shall have jurisdiction over all forms  
             and combination of forms of full contact martial arts  
             contests involving participants 18 years of age or younger.
           
          7. Requires CSAC to establish a pankration subcommittee to  
             investigate the rules and conduct of contests involving or  
             claiming to involve pankration by persons under 18 years of  
             age, or any style deemed by the subcommittee to be  
             sufficiently similar.  Requires the subcommittee to make  
             recommendations to CSAC regarding any administrative actions  
             or statutory changes to be enacted that may be necessary to  
             improve its regulation and oversight of contests in order to  
             adequately protect participants.  Provides that the  
             pankration subcommittee shall consist of three members of  
             CSAC who meet and examine the following, including, but not  

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             limited to:

             A.    The legality and safety of contests.

             B.    Whether or not legislation should be enacted to  
                impose age-based requirements or restrictions, which may  
                include a prohibition on participants engaging in  
                contests.

             C.    Appropriate safety precautions for persons under 18  
                years of age engaging in contests.

          8. Prohibits a person under 18 years of age from participating  
             as a contestant in any professional contest or match or  
             exhibition and authorizes any person, irrespective of age, to  
             participate in an amateur contest, match, or exhibition  
             subject to that licensure authorization.

           Background  

           CSAC  .  CSAC provides direction, management, control of and  
          jurisdiction over professional and amateur boxing, professional  
          and amateur kickboxing, all forms and combinations of full  
          contact martial arts contests, including MMA and matches or  
          exhibitions conducted, held or given in California.  SB 1549  
          (Figueroa, Chapter 691, Statutes of 2004) gave CSAC jurisdiction  
          over MMA, which at the time was a relatively new sport that was  
          quickly growing in popularity.  CSAC oversees licensing,  
          prohibited substance testing, and event regulation.   
          Functionally, CSAC has five primary responsibilities:   
          licensing, protection of the boxer and fighter, enforcement,  
          regulating events and administering the Professional Boxer's  
          Pension Fund.

          CSAC is responsible for implementation and enforcement of the  
          Federal Boxing Act and the State Act.  CSAC establishes  
          requirements for licensure, issues and renews licenses, approves  
          and regulates events, assigns ringside officials, investigates  
          complaints received, and enforces applicable laws by issuing  
          fines and suspending or revoking licenses.  In 2012, CSAC  
          supervised close to 200 events; to date, CSAC has supervised  
          over 100 events.  CSAC licenses a number of individuals related  
          to the participation in, oversight for, and management of events  
          in California. 

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           Delegation of authority for amateur sports in California  .   
          Existing law allows CSAC to delegate its authority to oversee  
          amateur sports to a qualified nonprofit organization if CSAC  
          determines that the nonprofit "meets or exceeds the safety and  
          fairness standards of the Commission."  Under existing law,  
          CSAC's delegated authority for amateur regulation would also  
          have oversight of the same sports as CSAC.

          California is unique in requiring that a delegated authority  
          have nonprofit status.  According to information provided by the  
          National Conference of State Legislatures, many other states  
          similarly delegate regulatory authority for amateur sports but  
          do not always require the organization to have nonprofit status.  
           

          CSAC has delegated its regulatory oversight responsibilities of  
          amateur boxing and MMA to USA Boxing, Inc. and to California  
          Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization (CAMO).

          There have been several issues with USA Boxing that raise some  
          concern regarding the oversight of amateur boxing.  In 2009,  
          CSAC suspended USA Boxing's authorization to regulate amateur  
          boxing for three weeks in response to media reports of  
          improprieties including underage alcohol consumption and  
          gambling at USA Boxing sanctioned events and concern for the  
          health and safety of amateur athletes.  That delegation was  
          reinstated after CSAC staff negotiated stricter requirements  
          regarding safety, background checks, uniformity, reporting and  
          record keeping, and included promises for USA Boxing to be more  
          responsive to CSAC.  CSAC voted to place USA Boxing on probation  
          until June 2010.  Earlier this year, CSAC informed USA Boxing  
          that it would be randomly sending CSAC inspectors to USA Boxing  
          sanctioned events to ensure safety at those events.

          When CAMO was first created and received authority from CSAC to  
          oversee amateur MMA, there was no consensus on safety standards  
          for amateur MMA and CAMO the founders reported that it was  
          unnecessary and even dangerous for the fighters to wear  
          headgear.  It does not appear that CSAC ever adopted regulations  
          to clearly outline the difference between professional  
          regulations and amateur regulations prior to delegating its  
          authority.  Additionally, CSAC struggled with a definition of  
          what constitutes "full contact" and should therefore be  

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          regulated.  While CAMO presented substantial regulations and  
          clear standards for the components necessary to oversee amateur  
          MMA, there is some concern that CSAC was not yet in a position  
          in its own process and according to its own procedures to assist  
          in the creation of the CAMO program.  CSAC also worked with a  
          small group of stakeholders to create a new model for regulation  
          which may have omitted the input of many passionate athletes and  
          organizers.  CAMO established a fee structure for licensing that  
          exceeds any of the fees collected by CSAC.  Many groups  
          determined to be under CAMO's regulatory authority still balk at  
          the fee structure, citing that high fees are cost prohibitive to  
          conduct events.  According to the State Auditor, CSAC may have  
          opportunities to generate revenue by regulating amateur MMA  
          rather than delegating its authority to CAMO.   

           Pankration safety concerns  .  Recent features on Nightline and  
          Dateline focused on young children in Southern California who  
          compete in pankration events that take place in cages, similar  
          to those made popular by professional MMA outfit, the Ultimate  
          Fighting Championship.  In the feature, clips from a pankration  
          event, put on by the United States Fight League (USFL), showed a  
          young girl being hit in the face by a young boy during a match  
          in a cage.  USFL has consistently countered that the clip has  
          been taken out of context, that the organization's rules do not  
          allow for strikes to the head and the match was stopped by a  
          referee once the head strikes occurred.  The event was not  
          regulated by CAMO, which has been delegated CSAC's authority for  
          regulating amateur MMA.  USFL events like the one featured in  
          the media clip have no requirements for medical and safety  
          standards like those required by CSAC and CAMO.  USFL's written  
          rules, which govern its events, specifically restrict strikes to  
          the head and USFL management claim that the rules are consistent  
          with other light contact sports like karate and tae kwon do  
          which are decided on a point scoring system, rather than by harm  
          to the opponent as in MMA.  However, USFL pankration events do  
          allow knee strikes which are not allowed in any other grappling  
          sports like judo or jiu jitsu or even kickboxing.  MMA and Muay  
          Thai, a sport very similar to MMA, are the only disciplines  
          other than pankration, as practiced and promoted by USFL, that  
          also allow knee strikes.  Additionally, there are age  
          restrictions for amateur Muay Thai particpants, allowing only  
          youth 16 years of age and older to compete in that sport, while  
          pankration events do not have any age restriction and  
          participants as young as five years old have competed in these  

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          events.

          In March 2009, CSAC first expressed concern about youth  
          pankration events in California, specifically that head strikes  
          were taking place and the events were not regulated.  CSAC staff  
          and DCA Legal Counsel attended pankration events and reviewed  
          videos and organization rules to determine if the activity  
          constituted full contact combat sports and should be regulated.   
          Organizers modified rules numerous times to evade regulation  
          until CSAC received a formal legal opinion in 2010, which found  
          that pankration is a form of full contact MMA, subject to CSAC's  
          oversight.  

          Throughout 2009 and 2010, the USFL, which was known then as the  
          Amateur Pankration League/USA Pankration, came before CSAC and  
          the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development  
          Committee contesting the determination that their sport is full  
          contact, under CSAC's jurisdiction, and since the group put on  
          amateur shows, would be regulated by CAMO on CSAC's behalf.  The  
          group continues to testify at CSAC hearings that they are not  
          full contact, despite the video clips recently highlighted on  
          Nightline and Dateline, as well as those used by CSAC's Legal  
          Counsel to make the original determination.  However, the USFL  
          President has described his events as "kids MMA" or "MMA events  
          for kids" when promoting the competitions, creating a  
          significant lack of clarity.  A recent subcommittee meeting of  
          CSAC received testimony that there is a lack of consistency  
          among the trainers and youth pankration promoters in terms of  
          requirements for medical evaluations prior to competitions.   
          Pankration stakeholders also recently testified that they  
          believe that only practices which result in injuries, as logged  
          and tracked so as to create statistics about such injuries,  
          should be excluded from events and the organization's rules.   
          USFL recently testified that it supports the regulation of youth  
          pankration, but that the events should only be governed by the  
          USFL rules, rather than general rules for full contact MMA as  
          those outlined by CAMO.  

          At its annual meeting last month, the Association of Boxing  
          Commissions Medical Safety Committee issued the following  
          guidelines for amateur combat events:

          1.Amateur events should be regulated by State Athletic  
            Commissions or participating jurisdictions, since amateur  

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            combat sports participants have fewer skill sets, but run the  
            same or greater risk of injury as do professional combat  
            sports competitors.


          2.Minimum medical requirements for participation in any amateur  
            event with modified rules (such as no elbow striking to the  
            head on the ground in MMA) should include:


                 Annual history and physical examination.


                 Baseline CBC, blood chemistries, lipid profile, clotting  
               times.


                 Communicable disease testing (HIV1/2, Hepatitis BsAg,  
               hepatitis C Ab) (every six months).


                 Annual ophthalmologic examination.

                 Baseline neurologic testing.

            The reviewing Commission/jurisdiction physician may require  
            further testing depending on the results of those submitted  
            prior to licensure/fight clearance.

            Suspensions of amateurs post-fight should be submitted to the  
            appropriate national Web site (fightfax.com;  
            abc.mixedmartialarts.com).

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  No

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  8/26/13)

          Bellator MMA
          California State Athletic Commission
          Roy Englebrecht Promotions


           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    According to the author's office, this  

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          bill is necessary to ensure the health and safety of young  
          children participating in certain amateur MMA events, known as  
          pankration.  Event organizers have used loopholes in state law  
          to escape CSAC regulations, which puts kids at risk for serious  
          injury.  Pankration organizers have testified at numerous CSAC  
          meetings and in communications to CSAC that their sport includes  
          only light or partial contact, thus does not fall under the  
          jurisdiction of CSAC, which has oversight responsibilities for  
          full contact sports.  Pankration event organizers in California  
          have also argued that CSAC does not license athletes under the  
          age of 16, and since the youth participating in their events are  
          under 16, CSAC does not have jurisdiction to regulate pankration  
          events.  According to the author's office, clarifying the  
          definition of full contact to ensure proper oversight of youth  
          events in California will provide for important safety  
          precautions at youth pankration events, including physical  
          examinations for participants, physician attendance at all  
          events, and a medical insurance program for all contests.

          Supporters believe that this bill protects the health and safety  
          of children who participate in full contact martial arts events.  
           Roy Englebrecht Promotions/Fight Club OC and Bellator MMA note  
          that "it is essential that the Commission be provided every tool  
          necessary to keep athletes safe, especially child participants."  
          They state that this bill is critical to protect the health and  
          well-being of children.


          MW:d  8/28/13   Senate Floor Analyses 

                           SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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