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Texas Bars State ‘Gangsta’ Ventures

Sat., June 21, 1997, midnight

Drawing a bead on “gangsta” rap, Texas on Friday became the first state to prohibit its agencies from investing in companies that produce or distribute music with lyrics that are sexually explicit or extol violence.

Similar legislation has been proposed over the last year in other states, notably Maryland and Pennsylvania, but has been thwarted.

The Texas law was passed in the form of a tiny rider at the end of the state’s massive 900-page budget, which was signed Friday by Gov. George W. Bush.

The rider prohibits the use of state money to invest in any business that owns 10 percent or more of a company that receives income from music that describes or advocates violence, illegal drug use, degradation of women, assault of police officers, necrophilia, bestiality, pedophilia or criminal street gangs.

Record industry executives, advocates of free speech and others attacked the move Friday, as did the managers of pension funds whose use would now be curtailed.

The Recording Industry Association of America is preparing to challenge the rider on constitutional grounds.

“We think that the motivation here was gangsta rap, but the legislation could impact everything: country, rock, jazz, anything with words,” said Cary Sherman, a vice president and general counsel of the association, a Washington-based trade group that represents all major American record labels.

“We sent the governor a letter saying it could include things like Ray Charles’ ‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’ and Bob Marley’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff.”’

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