Confederate flag joins Forrest on Haslam unapproved list

Gov. Bill Haslam has formally asked the Tennessee Historical Commission to approve a Memphis City County request to remove a statute of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest from a city park. This follows his request last week to the State Capitol Commission that a bust of Forrest be removed from the state capitol building.

Further, The Tennessean reports, he is informally questioning whether the state should stop issuing specialty vehicle license plates for the Sons of Confederate Veterans that have an image of the Confederate battle flag.

“I’d have my questions about that, about whether or not we should be having official Tennessee state license tags that do that,” he said.

…A spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue said there are currently 2,273 Sons of the Confederate license plates in active circulation. (Note: There are more than 100 varieties of specialty plates available for payment of extra fees, with the money from sales shared with the sponsoring organization.)

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…Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, and Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, introduced a measure in 2015 (HB1404) to halt their production.

“The flag is a divisive symbol and point of offense. Tennessee should stop issuing license plates that feature a symbol of hate, oppression and injustice,” Powell said at the time.

The bill died in the Transportation Committees of the House and Senate, having never been put to a vote.

Both the Capitol Commission, which meets Friday, and the Historical Commission, which meets next month, must approve relocation of historic monuments under a state law enacted last year (and signed by Haslam). The Tennessean has a report on the governor’s request to Historical Commission.

“While I support the principle of local governments deciding what to place on their own properties, state law reserves this decision for the Historical Commission,” Haslam said in a letter to Patrick McIntyre, executive director of the commission.

…The commission is set to make a final decision on the petition at its upcoming Oct. 13 meeting.

“A refusal to act on the petition in October will only prolong the issue and result in criticism of both the established process and the Commission itself, as this process can work effectively only if the responsible entities act in a timely manner,” Haslam said.

“I appreciate the sensitivity around these matters and respect the significant responsibility placed upon you as Commission members,” the governor concluded.

Note: Previous post on the Capitol Commission and Forrest bust HERE.

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