The first item on Senate’s agenda Wednesday was the hotly contested bill from Sen. Gerald Allen known as the Alabama Heritage Preservation Act, which prohibits the removal of historical monuments and lays out the process by which municipalities can petition for waivers to remove such monuments.
The item came up for discussion during Tuesday’s session, but debate was cut off after Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) acknowledged that nothing would be accomplished due to a Democratic filibuster on the item. Marsh motioned for adjournment and the body commenced with discussion again as the session got underway Thursday morning.
As Allen was recapping Tuesday’s activities, a cloture motion was made to cease discussion of the issue at 10:10 a.m. Immediately, Democrats began railing against the legislation and the motion for cloture.
“Yet again, we’re about to let ‘Big Brother’ go in and tell municipalities what they can do,” said Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro). “Remember, you are a party of less government and I can’t believe a cloture motion has been made on something such as this.”
Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma) chimed in as well, noting that allowing Confederate monuments on public property gives the impression that all people should subscribe to the ideals held by those being memorialized.
“This is about the legacy of slavery in many ways,” Sanders said. “The monuments they’re trying to protect are generally of people who supported slavery in one way or another. You know, slavery has long arms – it reaching all the way from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries into the present.”
“There was a time in this country where African-Americans were really just kind of abused like these bills abuse people,” said Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham). “We’re opening ourselves up for some very embarrassing exposure to the nation. I don’t want our state to get that kind of black eye.”
By the time the three Democrats had finished speaking, time had expired for discussion on the bill. The bill passed by a vote of 22-9 down party lines.