LOUISIANA BILL PASSES COMMITTEE
Last week, A Louisiana House committee advanced legislation that would forbid the removal of Confederate monuments. The House Committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs voted 10-8 to advance the Louisiana Military Memorial Conservation Act to the full House for consideration.
Baton Rouge Rep. Patricia Smith said after the vote that she had hoped the legislation would be defeated in committee and thus avoid a similar divisive debate in the House chamber. She expects the Republican-majority in the House to approve the measure. “Maybe the Senate can stop it,” Smith said.
House Bill 71 would forbid the removal, renaming or alteration of any military monument of any war, including the “War Between the States,” that is situated on public property. The measure was amended to require the support of a majority of voters in a public election before any monuments could be removed.
State Rep. Thomas Carmody Jr., a Shreveport Republican who says his family has been in Louisiana since before statehood and includes many veterans, called his measure “an effort to make sure those persons’ sacrifices are not just randomly tossed away into the ash bin of history … My objective is to stop the hate.”
His legislation covered all military monuments from all wars. But the bulk of the testimony was about Confederate monuments in New Orleans.
Carmody said HB71 could not stop the two-year effort by the City Council in New Orleans to move to museums or other locations, the statues of three Confederate luminaries that dominate major intersections. If approved and signed into law, the act probably wouldn’t take effect in time, he said, a position other representatives disputed.
Over a two-hour period, the committee heard testimony from almost two dozen supporters of the bill. Rep. Johnny Berthelot, the former Republican mayor of Gonzales who chairs House Municipal, timed each presentation with a three-minute egg timer.
Steve Jones, of St. Bernard Parish, testified: “Tearing down the three main monuments in the city is as if Rome was to tear down statues because the Roman Empire wasn’t very politically correct.”
Voting for conserving Confederate and other military monuments (10): Chairman Berthelot, Reps. Robert Billiot, D-Westwego; Paula Davis, R-Baton Rouge; Stephen Dwight, R-Lake Charles; Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge; Stephanie Hilferty, R-New Orleans; Mike Huval, R-Breaux Bridge; Stephen Pugh, R-Ponchatoula; Jerome Richard, No Party-Thibodaux; and Malinda White, D-Bogalusa.
Voting against HB71 (8): Reps Joseph Bouie, D-New Orleans; Cedric Glover, D-Shreveport; Sam Jenkins, D-Shreveport; Rodney Lyons, D-Harvey; C. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge; Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport; Patricia Haynes Smith, D-Baton Rouge; and Joseph A. Stagni, R-Kenner.
(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, May 5, 2017 ed.)