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Several bills were passed in the chambers on Thursday and a controversial electoral reform bill was elected from the committee.
AUSTIN, Texas – Texas lawmakers picked up several priority issues in both chambers on Thursday, including a Senate bill requiring professional sports teams to play the national anthem at games.
State Senator Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) drafted Senate Draft 4 (SB4). Under the Star-Spangled Banner Protection Act, state, cities, counties and other government agencies cannot sign taxpayer use agreements with professional sports teams unless the contracts include a written agreement that the US national anthem will be played Beginning of every game. These types of deals are commonly used to get teams to play in stadiums that receive government funding.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (R) made legislation a priority after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tacitly stopped playing the Star-Spangled Banner before the games.
The NBA requires the anthem to be played before the games and is causing the Mavericks organization to keep playing it, but lawmakers say they want more protection.
“The least we can do for our brave men and women who died fighting for our country and for those who actively defend our freedom is to have our national anthem played before professional sporting events, which cannot be done without them would.” “said Sen. Buckingham as she interpreted the bill.
SB4 passed all three readings and is now going to the Texas House of Representatives for examination.
The Senate also passed Law 6 of the Senate in all three readings. It protects first responders, businesses, and doctors from frivolous lawsuits during a pandemic if they follow recommended safety protocols.
The members first passed Senate Draft 1112, which makes it a class A offense for election workers to accept early postal ballot papers without checking the signature on the ballot paper.
The senators initially passed SB 1114 in a party line. It requires voter registrars to proactively compare voter lists with Department of Motor Vehicles citizenship records and remove ineligible voters from the lists. During the floor debate on the bill, Senate Bill 1235 was incorporated as an amendment to SB 1114. The State Secretary must compare the electoral roll with the DPS citizenship data on a monthly basis. Both SB 1112 and SB 1114 require an additional voice before being sent to the house.
Meanwhile, the Texas House of Representatives passed House Bill 5, which aims to extend high-speed Internet service to parts of rural Texas.
Members also passed House Bill 1239, which prohibits any official from issuing an emergency order to close a church or place of worship, as was done by some local leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And the House of Representatives Electoral Committee voted on a controversial draft electoral reform bill. After 17 hours of testimony last Friday, House Bill 6 (HB 6) was left pending in committee. During the middle of his session on Thursday morning, committee members voted by party line to move the bill forward.
HB 6 is taking numerous steps to change the voting process, including banning county leaders from proactively mailing mail-in voter requests to registered voters, as it did in Harris County in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, people helping disabled voters need to identify why the person needs help and give more leeway to election observers.
Republicans made electoral reform laws a priority at that session, saying it would help improve voter integrity and boost voter confidence. However, opponents say the bill goes too far because it is a criminal offense, and they argue that the real purpose is to suppress voters.
HB 6 now goes to the House Committee on Calendars, which decides if and when it will be heard on the floor of the house.
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