The Texas House on Tuesday passed a bill that would require any professional sports team with contracts with the Texas state government to play the national anthem prior to the start of a game.
Senate Bill 4, known as the “Star-Spangled Banner Act,” was passed on a voice vote with no changes Monday, according to the Texas Tribune. After Tuesday’s final approval, it now goes to Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law.
The bill’s House sponsor, Republican state Rep. Dustin Burrows, said the bill allows teams to choose not to play the national anthem but teams that do so will have to forgo any funding from the state.
“It’s very simple. If they do not want to play the national anthem, they don’t take the tax dollars,” Burrows said, according to the Tribune.
“If we’re going to go ahead and subsidize with hard-earned American dollars the sporting facilities and the teams in the different ways that I think is articulated in this bill, then this would apply.”
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick named the bill one of his legislative priorities after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stopped playing the anthem before home games.
“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. I have always stood for the anthem with the hand over my heart — no matter where I hear it played. But we also hear the voices of those who do not feel the anthem represents them,” Cuban said in February, according to NPR.
“We feel they also need to be respected and heard, because they have not been heard. The hope is that those who feel passionate about the anthem being played will be just as passionate in listening to those who do not feel it represents them.”
Patrick responded that the decision was “a slap in the face to every American & an embarrassment to Texas.”
“Sell the franchise & some Texas Patriots will buy it,” he wrote in a Twitter post.
.@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
Following pushback from the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks resumed playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before their games.
Opponents of the bill questioned the constitutionality of a law that tied funding to free speech by threatening repercussions for teams that choose to express their opinions by choosing not to play the anthem.
“Once again, we’re carrying legislation that is openly and aggressively unconstitutional,” Democratic state Rep. Gene Wu said, according to the Tribune.
Several proposed amendments to the bill were also defeated during Monday’s debate.
Democrats had proposed requiring teams to play both the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” — the so-called “Black national anthem” — or choose between the songs, but that was shut down.
“I don’t even understand why we would feel the need to force someone into singing any song,” Rep. Jasmine Felicia Crockett said, according to the Tribune.
“But if we are going to force people to sing a song, we should at least be mindful of the people playing on these teams, the people that are actually in the stands supporting these teams.”
Burrows, according to the Tribune, argued that any changes to the bill would delay it getting to the governor’s desk in the final week of the legislative session.
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