By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, May 4, the Alabama Legislature was meeting for the last time of the 2016 legislative session. The House was passing Senate bills and the Senate House bills. One of the last issues before the legislature was the Alabama Monument and Heritage Act of 2016, SB13. The Monuments Bill was sponsored by Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa).
On that last day it was carried by State Representative Kyle South (R-Fayette). The House was bringing up bills, the Democrats attempted to filibuster to kill the bills (as midnight killed everything that had not passed both Houses), and the Republicans would bring a cloture resolution to shut off debate, the House would vote on the bill, and the next bill would then come up. SB13 did not come to the floor until after 11:00 pm. Everyone was expecting the compromise prisons bill that had come out of conference committee and had passed the Alabama Senate. Black legislative caucus began debating South on the bill. Rep. South apparently expected a cloture motion which no one brought. A clearly flustered Rep. South asked the Speaker of the House Representative Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) to carry over the bill. More bills were passed. SB13 was then brought back to the floor. Again it was debated. Again no one brought the expected cloture motion and again South asked that the bill be carried over effectively killing it with just moments left in the session.
Alabama Sons of Confederate Veterans Alabama Division Adjutant Mike Williams who has bee lobbying the legislature for months said in a angry statement afterwards, “Dislike me or remove me but I believe Kyle South was duped by Mickey Hammon, Mike Hubbard and Mac McCutcheon. If I am too soft by being fair, then so be it. I base this on being there and not what I heard. I am not taking up for South, I am just reporting my experience on site. We may feel they all are the enemy, they may or may not be. They are however cowards who didn’t want their name on the bill saying yes or no after the legislature rammed abortion bills down the democraps throats. I am just stating my opinion and I will not disparage a man who was used, because I feel his pain, believe me…..This is your enemy! South at least brought the bill, and I did see the plan at 11am, so I know how it got hoodwinked
Williams said on April 5, “My fellow southerners: This week the Legislature comes back into session for about a month. Don’t let the month (time) fool you that is merely 8 meeting days. Now they have 13 days they can meet according to the constitution. The Monument and Heritage Bill of 2016 is sitting on the main calendar having passed everything but the HOUSE. Yes it passed all committees and the entire senate. It will not move forward unless it gets out on the “daily calendar” which in a lot of cases is decided by the House Rules Committee. Pray that SB13 is passed. I am providing the members of the Rules committee for your use if need be. Impeachment will be brought up tomorrow I have been told but other bills may be heard too. Gambling is still debated as well as there is expectations that the Governor will veto the Budget meaning there may be an attempt to override his veto. So you see, the protection bill can easily get lost in the shuffle and will have to wait until next year if not passed. Who knows what the climate will be next year?”
On March 16 the Alabama Monument and Heritage Act of 2016, was approved by the Alabama House State Government Committee in a 7 to 4 vote. It could have come up on any legislative day. Instead it sat in the Rules Committee until the last day of the session and did not come to the floor until the last hour of the last day.
Some legislators of both parties argued that local governments should be allowed to govern their communities without interference from the state and what to do with statues and monuments should be a local issue.
SB13 was being carried in the Alabama House of Representatives by State Representative Paul Beckman (R-Prattville). Beckman sponsored the House version of the bill, HB3.
The Alabama Political Reporter asked Williams why the much more experienced Rep. Beckman was not on the floor in the moment handling the bill. Williams said that Beckman told him that Speaker Hubbard took it away from him and gave it to Rep. South (who is in his first term).
SB13 would have created the Alabama Heritage Preservation Act of 2016. This bill would prohibit the relocation, removal, alteration, renaming, or other disturbance of certain commemorative statues, monuments, memorials, or plaques which are located on public property. This bill would have prohibited any person from preventing the governmental entity having responsibility for maintaining the objects from taking proper measures to protect, preserve, care for, repair, or restore the objects. The bill would also authorize the Alabama Legislative Council to grant waivers under certain circumstances and would provide for the levy of fines against governmental entities that act without approval of the Legislative Council. This bill would also have exempted certain art and artifacts, the Department of Transportation, and local highway departments under certain limited circumstances.
Following the assassination of South Carolina State Senator Rev. Clementa Pinckney and several members of his Church by a troubled young man who posed in pictures with a Confederate Flag there was a national movement to crack down on Confederate symbols. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) ordered all the Confederate flags be taken down on the Capital grounds. The City of New Orleans is in the process of removing a number of historic monuments to the Confederacy. Birmingham is considering moving the Confederate Veterans Memorial out of Linn Park. The Confederate Heritage group, Save Our South filed a lawsuit to protect the Linn Park monument.
Senator Gerald Allen introduced SB13 in response to the politically correct wave of monument removals.