A committee in the Texas state legislature has decided it prefers
that state investment officers "speak out" rather than "pull out" with regard
to state holdings in record companies producing what they consider to be
The Pensions and Investments Committee of the House of
Representatives voted Thursday to approve a bill that allows state
investing officers to use their stockholder voting rights to discourage
investment in any business entity that produces obscene musical works as
defined by the measure. The bill, authored by Republican committee chair Barry
Telford, acts as a House substitute for a Senate bill passed last month
requiring state entities to divest as soon as possible from record companies
producing obscene work, as well as from those companies' parent corporations.
Cypress Hill rapper B-Real, who is currently leading a new hip-hop side
project called The Psycho Realm, told ATN he believes the proposed legislation
is "unconstitutional... The government throws the first amendment around
Paul Russinoff, director of state relations for the Recording
Industry Association of America, calls the substitute bill "a relatively
dramatic change, in that it doesn't prohibit investment or force divestiture."
He allowed that the new measure "is certainly an improvement," but added,
"We're certainly not supporting it." As a general rule, the RIAA frowns upon
any government opinion on the suitability of lyrics.
Now that measure has been passed out of committee, it has
until May 28 to be passed by the full House of Representatives. If the bill
survives a House vote, the Senate then must decide whether to accept the
substitute text or to send both versions to a conference committee for
The substitute bill adds to the original text's list of
objectionable music that advocates violence toward a particular sexual
orientation or religion.
The new measure specifically allows investment
officers to "to promote stockholder resolutions and board actions that
discourage investment in a business entity that records or produces any musical
work that explicitly advocates: murder, assault, assault on peace officers,
sexual assault, and robbery; necrophilia, bestiality, or pedophilia; illegal
use of controlled substances; criminal street gang activity; degradation or
denigration of females; or violence against a particular sex, race, ethnic
group, sexual orientation, or religion."
Meanwhile, according to Russinoff,
the original Senate text of SB 1923 has been attached as a rider to a House
Appropriations bill. "We are still firmly opposed to that particular
provision," Russinoff told ATN. The Appropriations Committee office could not
be reached for comment.
"People need to start getting conscious," said
B-Real. "There's got to be something done. We're not going to take that
In any case, B-Real says, "They can't stop us everywhere. [Artists]
will go underground and make money regardless and say what they gotta