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Wisconsin lawmakers mull over national anthem requirement for all sporting events

MADISON, Wis. — The national anthem would have to be played before all sporting events held at Wisconsin venues that received any public funding under a mostly symbolic bill passed Tuesday by the state Assembly.

The Assembly passed the proposal on a bipartisan 74-22 vote, sending it on to the Senate. Democratic opponents derided it as a political stunt, unworkable and a solution in search of a problem.

Democratic Rep. Lisa Subeck, of Madison, called the GOP-sponsored proposal a “political messaging kind of bill and not about anything serious.”

“I also don’t think it’s possible for us to legislate patriotism,” she said.

Republicans said requiring the singing of the national anthem would increase patriotism.

“Can you teach patriotism?” said Republican Rep. Janel Brandtjen. “Yes, by singing this song you can and you can have the conversations about how great this country is.”

The requirement would apply at all levels of athletic events played on a field that ever received public money, from a bar league softball game at the local park to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

“Sporting event” is not defined, raising the question of whether the anthem would have to be sung every time someone gets together for a pickup game of football at the city park or plays a softball game on a municipal field.

There is no penalty for violating the requirement, so even if the bar league softball team skipped the national anthem, there would be no repercussion under the law.

The Wisconsin Parks and Recreation Association said it supported the intent of the bill, but questioned the need for it and how it would be implemented. The Wisconsin American Legion and VFW Department of Wisconsin backed the bill.

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