In House subs, one bill on Confederate statues moves forward; another sinks

A bill to punish local officials taking actions such as a Memphis City Council decision on Confederate statues was killed by one House subcommittee on Wednesday while another House sub approved a bill intended to block such moves in the future.

From The Tennessean’s report by Joel Ebert:

Approved in the Criminal Justice sub was a measure (HB1574) to change the Heritage Protection Act to explicitly prevent other municipalities from taking action similar to Memphis or face serious financial penalties…. (S)ponsored by Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroads, (it) would prohibit the sale or transfer of a memorial or public property containing a statue without first obtaining a waiver from the state Historical Commission.

… Meanwhile, the House Criminal Justice Committee rejected a bill that would have made it a felony for a local elected official to take a similar approach as Memphis officials.

Although the legislation did not explicitly mention Memphis’ decision last year to remove controversial statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis from public parks, critics said the measure was in response to the move.

The measure, HB 2552, sponsored by Rep. Dawn White, R-Murfreesboro, would also have made it a felony for a local government to enact policies that make it a sanctuary city. The state does not have any sanctuary cities.

During an at-times heated debate, Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, argued that the legislation was the result of Memphis’ decision.

White argued that she was merely seeking to protect history.

“We have to protect our history,” she said, to which Parkinson said the history of one of the controversial Memphis statues was Forrest, who is the infamous Confederate general who later served as the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

At one point, Parkinson tried to amend the legislation to make it a felony for any state lawmaker to approve a measure that violates federal law. Parkinson withdrew his amendment after being told it was outside the parameters of the bill.

Note: See also the Memphis Daily News report, which has more detail on the discussion on the Criminal Justice sub debate.

UPDATE: And, a few days later, Tennessee Star weighs in with a report including this comment from White:

“They just voted for sanctuary cities.”

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