By Sam Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabama Senate passed Senate Bill 60 on Thursday March 9th, after it was amended on the floor to change the time requirement in the bill.
The bill concerns monuments on public land.
The unamended bill prohibited anyone from disturbing any monument on public land that has been standing for longer than 50 years. Disturbing could be anything like renaming, removing, altering or relocating a monument. If the monument had been standing for fewer than 50 years, it could have been changed through a waiver sent to a committee set up by the bill. If a municipality or county was caught violating the act, a fine of $25,000 would be imposed on them.
The committee and fine provisions were not changed in the amended bill.
Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), sponsor of the bill, said the bill was about protecting the history of Alabama and the United States. He said that it is important to protect history and this bill would accomplish that.
On the Senate floor, the bill was met with a staunch opposition.
Senator Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) called the bill “divisive.” She proposed a new amendment to the bill. The amendment would reduce the time requirement from 50 years to 20 years.
The time provision has been a concern for some opposition to the bill. Since this bill would only apply to monuments from 50 years ago, no monument honoring Civil Rights leaders or events would be protected.
Senator Hank Sanders (D- District 3) spoke about his problems with the 50 years’ time frame. He said that this bill would only protect a certain kind of history. He specifically cited that the time of integration and the struggles of the Civil Rights movement would not be protected by this bill.
“It doesn’t protect all history at all,” Sanders said.
Senator Bobby Singleton (D- Greensboro) spoke about a different opposition he had to the bill. Singleton said the state government should not decide what to do with monuments that are maintained and payed for by municipalities and county governments. He questioned the existence of the bill since there aren’t any specific examples of monuments being changed around Alabama.
“This is an undue burden,” Singleton said.
Coleman-Madison’s amendment was accepted and the amended bill was voted on by the Senate. The final tally was 24-7 with passage winning. The bill will now go to the Alabama House of Representatives.
Singleton, Sanders and Coleman-Madison all voted no to the amended bill.