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Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Southwest Louisiana ,
In this Sept. 2, 2015, file photo, people walk past a monument dedicated to the Battle at Liberty Place in New Orleans. Reactions are varied and nuanced in New Orleans as the city moves ahead with the removal of four monuments to Confederate-era figures including the one dedicated to the Battle of Liberty Place in 1874.

In this Sept. 2, 2015, file photo, people walk past a monument dedicated to the Battle at Liberty Place in New Orleans. Reactions are varied and nuanced in New Orleans as the city moves ahead with the removal of four monuments to Confederate-era figures including the one dedicated to the Battle of Liberty Place in 1874.


House backs ban on removal of statues

Last Modified: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 8:23 AM

By Jim Beam / American Press

BATON ROUGE —The House voted 65-31 here Monday to approve legislation that gives local voters the right to decide the fate of public military memorials, including monuments and a number of other changes being considered in different parts of the state.

House Bill 71 by Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, moves to the Senate. It prohibits state and local government entities from taking actions to remove or destroy public military memorials unless the decision is made after a vote of the people.

The legislation includes any structure, plaque, statue or monument that is located on public property and that commemorates specified wars in U.S. history. It also prohibits altering, removing, relocating, rededicating or renaming a public memorial.

Included are schools, streets, bridges, buildings, parks or areas that have been dedicated in memory of or named for any historical military figure, historic military event, military organization or military unit.

Voting for the bill were Reps. Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles; James Armes, D-Leesville; Stephen Dwight, R-Moss Bluff; Johnny Guinn, R-Jennings; Bob Hensgens, R-Abbeville; Dorothy Sue Hill, D-Dry Creek; and Frank Howard, R-Many. Reps. Mike Danahay, D-Sulphur, and A.B. Franklin, D-Lake Charles, were against.

The bill got out of the Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs Committee with a 10-8 vote on May 3.

Carmody said the bill is a great experience in democracy because it gives all voters a chance to make decisions on monuments and other historical items. He said monuments commemorate people’s sacrifices.

The measure would have no effect on the actions taken by New Orleans to remove four of its monuments, Carmody said. However, he added that similar actions are being considered elsewhere and he has received much correspondence from people who want to decide those issues.

“We are granting citizens the franchise at the next scheduled election,” Carmody said. “It facilitates the will of the people. Monuments belong to the public, and we are the public.”

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus objected strenuously to the legislation.

Rep. Gary Carter, D-New Orleans, said, “This bill is absolutely offensive to us. This is personal and offensive.”

Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, said because of the turmoil the bill will create “you don’t want to see these (public) elections.”

Rep. Joseph Bouie, D-New Orleans, said the legislation deprives the right of local governments to decide property issues. He said the democratic process was used when the New Orleans City Council voted 6-1 to remove monuments considered offensive.

Four proposed amendments to the bill were ruled not germane (relative to the subject matter being considered) by the speaker of the House. They dealt with raising the minimum wage, equal pay for women, allowing 16-year-olds to vote and a public vote on approving medical marijuana pharmacies.

The House voted three times to uphold the speaker’s rulings.

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