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Senate approves bill to reconstruct Alabama Archives board

The legislation would remove current members of the board and then replace them with appointees.

Alabama Archives Chris Pruitt
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Legislation that would overhaul the oversight board of the Department of Archives and History passed the Senate on Wednesday.

The bill, SB77, passed on a 26-7 vote with all Democrats in opposition and all Republicans in favor. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Josephine, and will remove current members of the board and then replace them with appointees handpicked by the governor, lieutenant governor, Speaker of the House and Senate President Pro Tempore.

Elliott has claimed that the bill is intended to fix a board of “bureaucrats” that do not answer to the values or concerns of the people. However, during debate on the Senate floor Wednesday Elliott revealed the issue was because they held an event last June about LGBTQ+ history and Elliott seemingly admitted that was not true history to him.

While discussing the bill and the importance of history with Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, Elliott said, “what doesn’t matter is who somebody has sex with last night.” 

The Department of Archives held an event hosted by the Invisible Histories Project called “Invisible No More: Alabama’s LGBTQ+ History.”

The event sparked a backlash from conservatives and several Republican lawmakers including Elliot. During the debate, Elliott said the content wasn’t history but indoctrination.

Following the bill’s passage, the Alabama Senate GOP posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the ADAH was engaged in a “leftist agenda” using public funds.

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“State-funded institutions are meant to reflect the will of the people,” the post read. “Yet, the Department of Archives and History has blatantly disregarded Alabama’s longstanding commitment to preserving our history and instead promoted their own social agenda.”

Throughout history, LGBTQ+ people have been marginalized and discriminated against merely for being queer.

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth approved of the bill in a statement following its passage.

“Because no General Fund agency should declare itself above oversight and accountability, it is time to force the Archives board to open its door and allow any Alabamian who wishes to serve an opportunity to apply for appointment,” Ainsworth said in a statement.

Now the bill moves to the House of Representatives where if passed could become law.

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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