State lawmakers passed legislation protecting Texas historical monuments in the most recent legislative session, but an amendment added to the Senate version of the legislation threatens to make it meaningless, according to local reports.
In the previous weeks and months, Big League Politics reported on the push to tear down a broad range of Texas historical monuments, as well as the push to protect historical monuments and school names from liberal city halls with new state bans on removal.
Two pieces of proposed legislation, specifically, Senate Bill 1663 and House Bill 3948 — declared new state powers to “strip local governments of their authority to take down historical monuments, statues or portraits, or even rename schools, parks, streets and other public property,” reported the left-leaning Texas Observer.
State Sen. Brandon Creighton, a Republican from Houston, TX, passed what’s believed to be the more weighty and (because it started in the Senate) more influential form of the proposed monument protection law, but Rules Committee member Kel Seliger, a liberal Republican condemned by both Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick for “obstruction,” added a last-minute amendment that most Texas politicos believe neuters Creighton’s legislation and makes it worthless.
Amend CSSB 1663 (senate committee printing) in SECTION 4 of the bill, in added Section 338.002, Local Government Code, (page 3, between lines 23 and 24), as follows:Strike “only by approval of a majority of the voters of the municipality or county, as applicable, voting at an election held for that purpose” and substitute the following:“only by supermajority vote by the governing body of the municipality or the commissioners court of the county, as applicable”
[UPDATE: As of writing, the bill as it came out of the Senate is gone, substituted with another bill. Now, any monument over 40 years old can’t be moved at all, by anybody. Still, Seliger’s actions may deserve mention.]
Were Seliger’s amendment to be successful, the law would’ve remained very close to what it is presently, and the status quo would not prevent Dallas City Council from tearing down 100-year-old monuments in graveyards to those who fell in the Civil War. Chris Eckstrom and his organization Conservative Response Team ran ads all over the state on major networks depicting the city council meetings where Texas history was condemned to an asheap. We covered the ads at BLP. (See here, and here.)
Creighton contended that SB 1663 is fundamentally about historical preservation and education. “We need to educate, not celebrate, what [the Confederacy] stood for,” he said, adding that the measure is about “recognizing the good, the bad and the ugly of our past.”
Though praised by the grassroots (whatever that means) for his initial bill, Sen. Creighton rolled over and agreed to an amendment from Senator Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, that gives local city coucils the power — as they have right at this moment with no change necessary — to continue voting on tearing down monuments.
Former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and primary challenger to George P. Bush in 2017 says that it’s not quite the crisis or loss some critics believe it to be.
“Not exactly. The switch from popular vote to supermajority of City Council does not apply to the Alamo Cenotaph, so if SB1663 passes with the Seliger amendment that monument is still protected, and while I prefer the popular vote option, a supermajority of council is a hell of a lot better than it is now,” stated Patterson in an email to this reporter.
And, the House substituted HB 583 for SB 1663, which retains the popular election and cans the supermajority of council vote.
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