Texas Ban on State Agency Investments Struck Down

by David R. Parvo

The Associated Press reported on April 14 that state legislators of Texas were mulling over the feasibility of an investment rule, which requires all state bodies to divest from all companies producing "offensive" music by Sept. 1, 1998. The rule was signed into law last June as a rider to an appropriations bill. It forbids investment in any company that produces musical works that explicitly describe, glamorize or advocate violence, robbery, gang activity, drug activity and sexual practices. It is the almost the exact wording as that of California bill AB 2357. One of the problems that was brought up is the determination of whether a company or one of its subsidiaries produces music that meets the aforementioned criteria for offensiveness. On April 17, State District Judge F. Scott McCown threw out the Texas law. "The ban should have been considered as a separate bill instead of tacked to the budget as one of hundreds of so-called 'riders'", he said. According to Donald Forse, director of operations for the American Family Association, "the state has a moral imperative not to invest in companies producing violent or sexually explicit work. Even if the bill is deemed unconstitutional, we will still actively pursue having these boards review and hopefully divest the stocks they have in Disney and some of these other companies."

The Texas law was ruled unconstitutional, but not on the merits of freedom of expression, which is alarming. Instead, the Texas district court rejected the law because it was slipped into the state's budget as an amendment, violating a rule that bills must cover only one subject. I guarantee you that this bill will rear its ugly head once again. Like the California bill AB 2357, parental warning stickers, and making it illegal to sell "offensive" albums to minors, this law will pave the way for more censorship-friendly legislation. According to backers of this bill and others similar to it, music, like tobacco, kills, regardless of the fact that there is no scientific evidence to prove this. Also, music is expression, and government restrictions such as this hinder freedom of expression and suppresses creativity. Restricting freedom of expression to solve a problem is like treating dandruff by decapitation.

Eventually, this law which violates freedom of expression will be introduced again. Therefore, it is very important to contact those who are involved to voice your disproval of this undemocratic legislation. There are many state representatives in Texas. As a result, they are too numerous to mention. Therefore, a good place to go is:

http://www.senate.gov/~hutchison/txdeleg.htm

All of the State Representatives and Senators of Texas' contact information is provided there. You can also contact the Attorney General of Texas at:

Dan Morales
Texas State Attorney General
P.O.B. 12548
Austin, TX 78711
PH: 512-463-2100
EMAIL: dan.morales@oag.state.tx.us

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