Bill requiring pro sports teams in Texas to play national anthem heads to governor's desk

ByJeff Ehling WTVD logo
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants special session over 3 failed bills
Where do some key Texas bills stand as this legislative session comes to an end? ABC13's Jeff Ehling walks us through what to know and how they could affect you.

AUSTIN, Texas -- With just a week to go before the legislative session ends in Texas, a host of bills are making their way to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.

One of the pieces of legislation still under consideration would require sports teams to play the national anthem at games.

Dubbed the "Star Spangled Banner Protection Act," Senate Bill 4 would apply to professional sports teams that receive government funds from the state of Texas, requiring them to play the song.

The act passed in the House on Tuesday. It now heads to the governor's desk.

According to The Texas Tribune, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made the bill one of his legislative priorities after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stopped playing the anthem before home games.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he decided before this season began not to play the national anthem before his team's home games.

"Sell the franchise & some Texas Patriots will buy it. We ARE the land of free & home of the brave," Patrick said at the time.

In a public response to the outcry condemning his decision, Cuban expressed support for the anthem, but he said team executives "also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them." The NBA later said all teams would play the anthem before games.

During Monday's debate on the House floor, opponents questioned the constitutionality of a law that they said ties funding to free speech by threatening negative action against sports teams that choose to express their opinions by declining to play the anthem.

"Once again, we're carrying legislation that is openly and aggressively unconstitutional," said state Rep. Gene Wu, a Houston Democrat who unsuccessfully tried to turn the bill into a resolution, allowing the House to take a stand in favor of the anthem without the force of law.

The bill's House sponsor, state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, said the bill does not violate free speech because teams can still choose not to play the anthem and forgo the funding and business relationship with the state.

SEE ALSO: Texas set to allow people carry handguns without background check, training

The law would allow Texans to carry a handgun without a license. But several law enforcement agencies and unions from Houston and across the state oppose this.

Another bill, the Firearm Carry Act of 2021, has garnered national attention because it would allow residents in Texas age 21 and older to carry a firearm without a license.

It prohibits violent family offenders and convicted felons from carrying weapons. Abbott has said he will sign it into law.