The Virginia state Senate Committee on Local Government passed by for the day a House bill that would authorize localities to remove, relocate or alter memorials for war veterans, including the Civil War.
Through a voice vote, House Bill (HB) 5030 was passed by for the day with the understanding that the committee chair will write a letter to the Department of Historic Resources and the Attorney General’s office for a better understanding on the memorials and of any potential legal ramifications from the bill.
“I think my frustration is that as Americans and as Virginians, we are talking about censoring our history,” Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) said in an interview with The Virginia Star. “That is what is at stake here. Under no circumstance do I believe that we should censor our history, it is what it is and we need to be truthful about it.”
Chase, who voted in support of passing the bill by for the day, vowed to oppose any legislation that would censor the country’s history in any shape or form, and to put monuments that were already taken down back up if elected as governor.
Specifically, the bill would give authority to localities to remove, relocate or alter all memorials or statues for war veterans from every war on the locality’s public property.
The legislation also allows for a locality to petition a circuit court judge with proper jurisdiction for an advisory referendum to be held on proposed action with a memorial or statue.
During the committee meeting Del. Delores McQuinn (D-Chesterfield), the bill’s sponsor, said part of the reason she introduced the bill was to ensure that individuals do not try to remove memorials in a dangerous fashion, specifically referring to an incident in Portsmouth where a man was injured when protestors dismantled a Confederate monument.
Under the bill, an existing enactment clause excluding the removal of a monument of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson on the campus of Virginia Military Institute would be repealed.
What the bill does not require, however, is for a local governing body to call a public hearing so that citizens of a locality attempting to change or remove a monument can offer their opinions.
Additionally, the bill does not say where the war veteran memorials would be moved to if a locality decided to remove it.
“I understand and can appreciate what Delegate McQuinn was trying to accomplish,” Sen. Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond City) said in an interview with The Star. “The biggest hurdle for getting the bill passed from some of the other [Senators] was the barring of people from giving public comment and that is probably going to need to be addressed.”
Morrissey also said that passing by for the day is fatal to the bill, but it is still possible for the legislation to be taken up again and passed.
There is currently no timetable for when HB 5030 will be considered by the Local Government Committee again.
If the bill does end up passing during the special session it would go into effect on January 1, 2021.
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Jacob Taylor is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Follow Jacob on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Portsmouth Confederate Monument” by Doug Kerr. CC BY-SA 2.0.