October 29, 2007
LAWS REQUIRING AMERICAN FLAGS TO BE AMERICAN-MADE
By: Judith Lohman, Chief Analyst
You asked for information on laws in other states that require all American flags sold in the state to be manufactured in the United States. You asked for (1) a list of states that have enacted such legislation or similar laws, (2) copies of the statutes passed, and (3) information on how the laws are enforced.
According to Westlaw and other computer searches, only Minnesota has enacted a law requiring all American flags sold in the state to be manufactured in the United States. The Minnesota law takes effect January 1, 2008. The law is silent on enforcement but another Minnesota law appears to make violating the flag law a misdemeanor, which is enforceable through criminal processes.
Three states have laws that require certain American flags to be manufactured in the U.S. These laws cover flags purchased under state contracts (Tennessee) or for display in public schools (Arizona and Massachusetts) and public colleges and universities (Arizona). These laws have no specific enforcement mechanisms, but they apply only to public agencies.
The New Jersey and Pennsylvania legislatures considered bills on this topic in their 2006 and 2007 sessions, respectively. The New Jersey bill would require all American and New Jersey flags bought with state funds to be made in the U.S. The Pennsylvania bill covers American and Pennsylvania flags bought by government agencies.
BAN ON SALES OF FOREIGN-MADE AMERICAN FLAGS
Minnesota law bars anyone in the business of selling goods at retail from selling or offering to sell an American flag in Minnesota that was manufactured outside the U.S. The law passed in the 2007 session as part of the omnibus state budget act. It takes effect January 1, 2008 (Minn. 2007 Laws, Ch. 135, Art. 8, §2, copy attached).
The flag law itself specifies no penalty for violators or enforcement mechanism, but Minnesota has a default statute that makes any prohibited act that carries no specific penalty a misdemeanor and imposes a fine of up to $1,000, up to 90 days in jail, or both (Minn. Stats. § 609.03).
The Minnesota flag law is silent on how it is to be enforced; but if violation is considered a misdemeanor under § 609.03, enforcement would be up to police and prosecutors.
U.S. MANUFACTURE REQUIREMENTS FOR CERTAIN AMERICAN FLAGS
Arizona law requires public schools and higher education institutions to display, in each classroom, an American flag that is at least two feet by three feet and made in the United States (A.R.S. §§ 15-506, 15-1445 (16), and 15-1526 (17), copy attached).
Massachusetts law requires each school committee to supply each public school under its control with a U.S. flag that is (1) at least two feet long, (2) made of silk or bunting, and (3) manufactured in the United States (M.G.L.A., Ch. 71 § 69, copy attached).
Tennessee requires all official U.S. and Tennessee state flags purchased under a state contract to be manufactured in the U.S. (Mitchie's Tenn. Code, § 4-1-301(d), copy attached).
RECENT PROPOSED LEGISLATION
A 2939 (copy attached) and S 2595, introduced in the New Jersey legislature in 2006, would require any U.S. or New Jersey state flag bought with state funds to be manufactured in the U.S. The bill was passed by the New Jersey Assembly on June 8, 2006 by a 79-0 vote. It was then referred to the Senate State Government Committee, which took no further action on it.
HB 419 of the 2007 session, known as the “Flag Procurement Act,” (copy attached) would require all Pennsylvania government agencies to procure only U.S. and Pennsylvania flags made in the U.S. It defines a U.S. -made flag as one that has a substantial majority of its principal components assembled into a finished product in an assembly plant in the U.S. It requires state contracts to include the flag requirement unless the agency head states, in writing, that the requirement is inconsistent with the public interest or the cost is unreasonable.
Agencies must withhold state payments from contractors who do not comply. Under the bill, any payments made that should not have been would be recoverable directly from the flag supplier. In addition, willful violators may be barred from receiving state contracts for five years.
HB 419 was reported by the House Committee on State Government on March 12, 2007, referred to the House Appropriations Committee on March 13, 3007, and passed by the full House on April 23, 2007 by a vote of 194-0. The bill was sent to the Senate, which referred it to the Senate State Government Committee on May 2, 2007. That committee has so far taken no action on the bill.