Florida lawmakers tie national anthem to sports money


TALLAHASSEE (Florida News Service)

Florida lawmakers moved ahead Tuesday with a plan that would connect the playing of the national anthem at sporting events to state and local dollars.

The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee supported a proposal (SB 1298) requiring Florida professional sports teams that receive government money to play the national anthem before every home game.

When asked by Senator Victor Torres, D-Kissimmee, if there was a team that didn’t play the national anthem, bill sponsor Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, admitted that he was unaware of the Florida cases where “The Star” – Spangled Banners”. do not play before games and other events.

“This is just to make sure that, as a proactive approach, that people keep playing it,” said Gruters, who served as the Florida Republican Party chairman.

In voting against the bill, Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, called the proposal an overreach for private business that appeared to have nothing to do with the national anthem.

“We are pushing ourselves out there as a free state. All about freedom. All about limited government. However, you can choose and choose when you limit government,” Powell said after the meeting. “In this case, I think it’s like the border to overreach by the government. It’s the opposite of what I’ve heard. And we just need to be consistent in our message, especially if it’s driven by a particular political party. Just be persistent. ”

The proposal, which did not solicit public comment, reflects a Texas law, called the Star Banner Protection Act, that went into effect in September.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in November 2020 directed his team to stop playing the national anthem before home games, an action that came after several players violated the rules of the game. NBA by kneeling in song to support the Black Lives Matter movement and protest systemic racism in America

Cuban’s directive went unnoticed for a month, but the resulting uproar from conservative pundits quickly led to a Texas law that the Gruters sought to emulate.

Florida’s measure would prohibit government agencies from signing deals with professional teams without written verification that the song will be played.

The Gruters proposal seeks to ensure the national anthem is played before games such as pre-season, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer and pre-season pro football, basketball, hockey, and hockey. professional hockey, soccer and soccer. In addition, the requirement would apply to NASCAR and IndyCar events held at venues with at least 75,000 permanent seats and professional golf tournaments.

Failure to play the national anthem may result in teams or venues having to refund government funds they have received.

A similar House bill (HB 499), introduced by Senator Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota, failed to make it to committees as the annual legislative session entered its second week.

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