TEXAS PASSES "OFFENSIVE LYRICS" BILL INTO LAW

On June 20, Texas Governor George Bush Jr., signed into law HB#1, a budget appropriations bill. Attached as a rider to HB#1 was an additional piece of legislation that originated in the Texas Senate as SB#1923. Authored and introduced by Republican Senator Bill Ratliff, SB#1923 was passed unanimously by the Texas Senate in April. In May, a Texas House Committee substituted SB#1923 with a "milder" version only to have it thrown out and have the original text reinstated as Rider#174 attached to HB#1.

So, with the stroke of his pen, Bush made it law that no state agency or entity, boards administering pension funds or state universities may invest funds into any record company,or companies that own record labels that produce material that meets a state definition of "offensive." The law will become effective September 1, 1998.

The official Texas state version of "offensive" includes but is not limited to "songs, lyrics or other musical work that explicitly describes, glamorizes or advocates: 1) acts of criminal violence, including murder, assault, assault on police officers, sexual assault and robbery; 2) necrophilia, bestiality or pedophilia; 3) illegal use of controlled substance; 4) criminal street gang activity; 5) degradation or denigration of females; and 6) violence against a particular sex, race, ethnic group, sexual orientation or religion."

Now that the Texas bill is law, this type of legislation can be expected to be introduced in other states. The most likely to go first will be Pennsylvania, where just a year or so ago State Representative TJ Rooney was calling for the Pennsylvania Teachers Association to divest their funds in Time-Warner. Louisiana and Maryland are other possible states to follow Texas.

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