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State Representative prefiles bill to repeal Monument Preservation Act

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY — State Representative Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham, filed a bill last week to repeal the Monument Preservation Act that passed the Legislature earlier this year.

The controversial bill passed out of the Legislature at the last minute and was host to multiple re-writes and committee meetings. It prohibits any monument older than 40 years from being altered in any way.

For any monument that is between 20-40 years old, they would need to be changed through a committee established by the act.

The act was met with multiple protest by Democratic state senators in the Spring. Their arguments stemmed from the fact the act only protected monuments older than 40 years. Senator Hank Sanders, D-Selma, argued that the bill wouldn’t protect Civil Rights era monuments erected less than 40 years ago.

Other senators, such as Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, had problems that the bill would negatively affect municipality’s control of monuments that they maintain.

Republicans in the Legislature argued that the law was about protecting historical landmarks and monuments from further alteration.

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The Monument Preservation Act’s sponsor State Senator Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, said the law is simply about preserving history in Alabama from “thoughtless destruction” in a press release following its final passage.

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The disagreements came with filibusters that lasted hours in the Alabama Senate and Alabama House of Representatives until it made its way to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk.

The monument bill was among the last of the bills to leave the Legislature with votes being along party lines. Ivey signed it into law in May.

While one representative has filed Legislation to repeal the act, State Senator Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, announced his intention on Twitter to file an amendment to the bill.

“I am prefiling a bill next week (or when [Legislative Reference Service] gets it to me) to remove any mention of schools from the monument preservation act,” Brewbaker wrote.

Birmingham’s Mayor William Bell recently challenged the act by ordering a barrier be placed around a Confederate memorial in a park next to City Hall.

The City decided to remove the statue after a white supremacist ran his car into a crowd during a protest concerning a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. The event has prompted the removal of Confederate memorials and statues around the United States.

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced he would sue the city for violating the act earlier this month.

Birmingham City Council President Jonathan Austin said at a recent City Council meeting that they are considering removing the statue despite the lawsuit by Marshall according to al.com.

This is not the first time Birmingham has attempted to remove a Confederate statue. In 2015, the City Council attempted to remove the same statue they covered earlier this month. It was met with challenges from Confederate heritage group Save our South.

The new bill to repeal the Memorial Preservation Act will be read for the first time in January when the new Legislative Session begins.

 

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