AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - It would be a hands-off policy for every monument on state property like the Texas Capitol. That protection would be provided if the new version of senate bill 226 becomes law.
"You're pro-history, not prohconfederacy,” said State Senator Pat Fallon. The Republican from Prosper, said he didn’t draft his bill to glorify a lost cause, but to learn from it. "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,” said Senator Fallon.
The recent removal of Confederate monuments like those at UT Austin and in Dallas did motivate Fallon. But his bill no longer mentions schools and would only prevent cities and counties from using tax dollars to remove monuments. "That thing in Dallas, they spent nearly a million dollars now, on the Lee monument and the new one in the cemetery, they are going to take down, 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 legislation has revived a statewide debate.
An ad from a North Texas conservative PAC calls on Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to support legislation like Fallon's. A liberal political action group called “Blue in the Heart of Texas” has criticized Fallon's bill. In a blog its stated; "I'm genuinely perplexed as to why we are still fighting the Civil War in this country, and particularly here in Texas. But we are,” wrote the blogger.
The senator's original bill was similar to one filed on the house side. That house bill is still pending. "So I don’t have any reason to change it until we get to the Floor and we have debate about it,” said State Rep. Kyle Biedermann.
Biedermann, a Republican from Fredericksburg wrote HB 2648.
It would require a public vote before any monument can be removed. "We need the people's voice to be heard, let’s have a debate about it, this is not, we can learn from these monuments even if people are offended by them, there is no reason to tear them down,” said Rep. Biedermann.
A vote would also be required to change the name of a public school. Similar to what Austin ISD is doing to Reagan High, which was named after an early Texas leader who also served in the Confederate government.
Despite the link Biedermann, like Fallon, claimed he isn’t propping up a rebel past. "My bill never even mentions confederacy, it has nothing to do with the confederacy, this has to do with the history of Texas,” said Rep. Biedermann.
Representative Biedermann does plan to make a slight modification to his bill. He tells FOX 7 Austin that he is taking out a loophole that would allow monuments to be moved to different locations without a public vote. The monuments at the capitol remain on firm ground, but it’s unclear if either bill will get a committee hearing.