The congregation’s legislature passed a bill on Tuesday requiring the national anthem to be played prior to any Wisconsin sporting event that involves paying taxpayers’ money.
Rep. Tony Kurtz proposed that no sporting event should take place in a location that was at least partially built with public funds, unless the event is preceded by playing or singing the national anthem.
“We are a very dysfunctional family sometimes, that’s for sure – but we are a family,” Kurtz said on Tuesday on the floor. “And what concerns me once again to the core is that we are tearing ourselves apart in this country.”
Kurtz, a military veteran, said calling for the anthem to be played more often would remind the Wisconsinites that despite profound political differences, all are part of one country.
“Part of me worries about it. If someone says I’m not going to play the anthem – that’s my business. Because people, like it or not, we’re a big family and I want people to be together remember.” he said.
The bill was passed bipartisan by 74-22 votes, with only Democrats opposed.
“As much as I respect our flag, as much as I believe in this country, as much as I believe in our freedom, I am not sure whether it makes sense to require it to be played,” said MP Lisa Subeck before the Vote against the bill.
Subeck said that since the term “sporting event” is not defined in the bill, it could mean that any recreational softball game or pickup soccer game in a city park would require that it be played or sung beforehand and, in some cases, not would be practicable.
Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association officials said in their testimony on the bill the group supported playing the national anthem, but asked if implementation across all sporting events was feasible.
“… This could be administratively unmanageable,” said the group in a written testimony.
Rep. Don Vruwink estimated that he has heard the national anthem about 2,500 times in his life as a former history teacher and high school coach. He voted for the measure but said he feared the anthem, which is needed so often, could devalue its meaning.
“I want people to think about the words and what is being said,” he said.
MP Janel Brandtjen said the bill would encourage patriotism.
“Can you teach patriotism? Yes, when you sing this song you can and you can have the conversations about how great this country is, “she said.
Follow Molly Beck of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Twitter at @MollyBeck.