A Wisconsin bill that would require the national anthem to be played before all sporting events held at publicly funded venues was passed by the state Assembly on Tuesday.
The bill passed 74-22 on a bipartisan vote. The measure will now head to the state’s Senate, which is Republican-controlled. The state’s governor, Tony Evers, is a Democrat.
State Rep. Tony Kurtz, the bill’s Republican sponsor, told Fox News that he came up with the idea for the bill after the Dallas Mavericks opted to stop playing the national anthem before home games in February. The Mavericks reversed course after the NBA reinforced a ruling that the anthem should be played ahead of games.
When the Green Bay Packers remained in the locker room during the national anthem for the first time in September, Kurtz also felt he should write the legislation.
“The national anthem, the flag, it’s very near and dear to me,” Kurtz, an Army veteran, told Fox News. “To me, it’s something core to who I am, I know that might sound silly, but that’s just the truth. It’s something I truly believe in.”
The bill doesn’t define “sporting event,” leading to questions as to whether the anthem would be required ahead of casual events, such as an adult league softball game. But Kurtz said the intention is to have the bill apply to professional and college sports in the state.
The bill is largely symbolic. There are no penalties attached if a venue doesn’t play “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a game. That’s by design, Kurtz said.
“I want people to do this voluntarily,” Kurtz said. “And if they still want to sit there, that’s fine. If they want to get on one knee, which I disagree with, they can. So I don’t want to put a penalty, because I think that is crossing the line, to be honest with you. My goal is just kind of to reiterate to people the importance of this and why it matters.”