Texas Politics

Confederate monuments would be protected in Texas under these bills

Confederate Heroes Day celebrated at Parker County Courthouse

Sons of Confederate Veterans gathered at the Parker County Courthouse Friday to celebrate Confederate Heroes Day. (Video by Max Faulkner/Star-Telegram)
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Sons of Confederate Veterans gathered at the Parker County Courthouse Friday to celebrate Confederate Heroes Day. (Video by Max Faulkner/Star-Telegram)

Hands off those Confederate monuments, bills filed by these Texas lawmakers say.

Republicans in each of the two chambers of the Texas legislature have filed bills that would protect Confederate monuments around the state from being moved or removed.

Pat Fallon, from Prosper, just north of Dallas, pre-filed Senate Bill 226 for the 2019 legislative session after his election to the state senate last year, according to the Texas Legislature Online. He touted as early as March 2018 that if he were elected, a bill to protect Confederate war memorials would be the first bill he put his name on, according to the Wichita Falls Times Record News.

He was, and it was as well.

The bill is “pro-history, not pro-Confederacy,” Fallon said, according to KTBC. “We need to understand the African American journey and the original sin this country has with slavery, and historical monuments put that all into context so we will never forget and we will never repeat.”

SB 226 would prevent cities and counties from using taxpayer money to remove “certain monuments and memorials,” or in the decision-making process involved with renaming a school, park or other vestiges that have held the same name for at least 20 years, according to the bill text. It has been referred to the Senate State Affairs committee.

It’s a move inspired in part by the Dallas City Council’s 2017 vote to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from a park named Lee Park, and rename the park, according to KTBC.

“That thing in Dallas, they spent nearly a million dollars now, on the Lee monument and the new one in the cemetery,” Fallon told the station. “A million dollars in tax payer money and they didn’t have one citizen, it’s just an egregious use of tax payer money.”

The estimated cost to the city to remove the statue was “at least $450,000,” according to the Dallas Morning News.

State Rep. Kyle Biedermann, who was elected in 2016 and represents District 73 in south-central Texas, has filed House Bill 2648 last week, according to Texas Legislature Online. That bill would make the renaming or removing of any monument that has been in place for 20 years or more — and that “honors an event or person of historical significance” — subject to the approval of the state legislature, the Texas Historical Commission or the State Preservation Board, according to its text.

Both bills also lay out a new process for school districts and campuses in the state that may wish to change the name of a building or school, and state that “no public funds may be expended” for such changes.

Matt is an award-winning real time reporter and a University of Texas at Austin graduate who’s been based at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 2011. His regional focus is Texas, and that makes sense. He’s only lived there his whole life.