House votes to penalize Memphis $250K for removing Confederate monuments

In approving a state budget on Tuesday, the House voted 56-31 for an amendment that strips $250,000 in state money earmarked for helping finance the City of Memphis bicentennial celebrations next year – effectively penalizing the city’s removal of Confederate monuments from former city parks late last year.

From The Commercial Appeal report:

Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroads, who has been an outspoken advocate for the preservation of historical monuments, sponsored the amendment.

“What this amendment does is it removes $250,000 from the budget that is designated to go to the city of Memphis for their bicentennial celebration,” he said on the House floor. “If you recall, back in December, Memphis did something that removed historical markers in the city. It was the city of Memphis that did this, and it was full knowing it was not the will of the legislature.”

During Tuesday’s floor session, Democrats argued the amendment was vindictive. Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, called it the most “vile, racist” effort he had seen and said Republicans viewed Forrest “as if he was God.”

Rep. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, called the amendment “un-Christian.”

“This amendment and the explanation is hateful, it is unkind, it is un-Christian and it is unfair,” she said. “Memphis is a city in this state, and I am sick of people in this House acting like it’s not.”

But Republicans members in the House were unswayed.

Defending the amendment, Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, argued that “bad actions” have “bad consequences.”

Note: One Democrat, Rep. John Mark Windle of Livingston, was among the 56 in favor of the amendment. Eight Republicans were among the 31 voting no: Reps. Jim Coley of Memphis, Jeremy Faison of Cosby, Ron Lollar of Bartlett, Jerome Moon of Maryville, Eddie Smith of Knoxville, Mike Sparks of Smyrna, Mark White of Memphis and Kevin Vaughan of Collierville.

The budget bill is HB2644 and awaits a Senate vote. Recorded voted on the bill and various amendments are HERE. Amendment 5 is the provision that takes out the $250,000 for Memphis. The legislative website says it was sponsored by Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough).

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