Lawmakers in Texas passed a bill on Tuesday which will penalize professional sports teams that don't play the national anthem before games, according to Fox News.
The bill, dubbed the "Star Spangled Banner Protection Act," would require written contracts between government entities and pro sports teams in which they would agree to play the national anthem. Failure to do so could result in the loss of state or local subsidies, or the loss of state contracts in the future.
"Texans are tired of sports teams that pander, insulting our national anthem and the men and women who died fighting for our flag," said Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a staunch advocate for the bill according to Fox News.
"The passage of SB 4 will ensure Texans can count on hearing the Star Spangled Banner at major sports events throughout the state that are played in venues that taxpayers support. We must always remember that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave."
The bill was passed by the Texas House of Representatives in a 110-34 vote. It previously passed the Texas Senate with bipartisan support in April, with Gov. Greg Abbott expected to sign it into law.
To nobody's surprise, Democrats criticized the bill, arguing that it constitutes government overreach and violates First Amendment protections. Apparently now they care about free speech.
"Once again, we’re carrying legislation that is openly and aggressively unconstitutional," said Rep. Gene Wu (D), according to the Houston Chronicle.
The Mavericks drew criticism from local lawmakers last February after the team stopped playing the national anthem at the direction of owner Mark Cuban. The NBA later affirmed a league rule requiring teams to play the anthem before home games.
Cuban told ESPN the decision to stop playing the anthem came after consultations with both NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the local community.
"In listening to the community, there were quite a few people who voiced their concerns, really their fears that the national anthem did not fully represent them, that their voices were not being heard," said Cuban at the time.