As the month of September began Wednesday, Texas officially instituted more than 650 new laws. One of them will directly affect professional sports teams in the state.
According to The Texas Tribune, Senate Bill 4, also known as the “Star Spangled Banner Protection Act,” will require pro sports teams that receive public funds to play the national anthem before each game.
The bill is a direct response to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s decision to yank the national anthem from pregame ceremonies in the beginning of the 2020-21 season.
Cuban said on Feb. 9 that the Mavericks no longer were playing the anthem before their home games, The New York Times reported. They hadn’t played it throughout their preseason and regular-season games up until that point.
A day later, the NBA issued a statement saying “all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy.”
Cuban said he would comply but issued a statement defending his original decision.
“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country,” he said. “But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them. We feel that their voices need to be respected and head, because they have not been.”
Statement by Mark Cuban pic.twitter.com/OmtMNFUz1K
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) February 10, 2021
According to OutKick, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick prioritized SB4 after Cuban’s decision. He issued a statement in February slamming the Mavericks owner for pulling the anthem.
“Your decision to cancel our National Anthem at @dallasmavs games is a slap in the face to every American & an embarrassment to Texas,” the Republican wrote on Twitter.
“Sell the franchise & some Texas Patriots will buy it. We ARE the land of free & the home of the brave.”
.@mcuban Your decision to cancel our National Anthem at @dallasmavs games is a slap in the face to every American & an embarrassment to Texas. Sell the franchise & some Texas Patriots will buy it. We ARE the land of free & the home of the brave. https://t.co/4xfY5loqQQ
— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) February 10, 2021
Under the new law, teams that receive public funds and refuse to pay anthem will be forced to repay the government funds they received, which OutKick reported could total “millions of dollars.”
The Star Spangled Banner Protection Act passed the Texas Senate with bipartisan support in April, The Texas Tribune reported. Only two state senators voted against it.
The legislation faced much more opposition in the state House, and the Tribune said “several amendments” had been proposed. However, Republican lawmakers bucked all of them and passed it “along partisan lines” in May.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott later signed the bill into law, paving the way for its implementation on Wednesday.
Conservatives in Texas saw many other laws they supported take effect that same day.
House Bill 1927 allows citizens over 21 to carry handguns without a license, and HB 1900 allows Texas to “financially punish” cities of over 250,000 people if they cut their police budget.
The most notable law that went into effect was SB 8, which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a request to block the law, meaning SB 8 will remain in effect.
UPDATE, Sept. 2, 2021: This article has been updated to indicate the new national anthem law deals with teams that receive government funding, not just state funding.
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