During a hearing of the House Committee on Culture, Recreation, and Tourism, Republican and Democrat lawmakers were in opposition when it comes to protecting monuments.
With House Bill 1186, State Rep. Rafael Anchia (D–Dallas) unveiled the Democrats’ proposal for removing state history. Anchia demanded the removal of Confederate monuments from the state Capitol grounds, calling them “reminders of the failures of our state.”
Anchia also explained his intention to rename the John H. Reagan Building, an office building near the Texas Capitol, to the “Jackson-Webber Building” after Nathaniel Jackson and John Webber, members of an underground railroad that helped slaves escape to Mexico in the 1800s.
That bill is currently left pending in committee.
However, the committee also heard some Republican proposals that seek to protect Texas history and its related monuments.
One such bill is House Bill 2713, introduced by State Rep. Cole Hefner (R–Mount Pleasant). If passed, all monuments that have been on state property for 40 years or more could not be removed, relocated, or altered. Monuments that have been on state property for 20-40 years could only be removed or altered with a two-thirds vote.
Another bill is House Bill 4538, proposed by State Rep. John Cyrier (R–Lockhart). If passed, the bill would require a popular vote for monument removal in a municipality. He discussed how his bill would allow this right to all municipalities, even allowing citizens to vote on the creation of new monuments. There would also be financial penalties for municipalities that don’t allow people to vote on monuments before choosing to alter or remove them.
Brandon Burkhart, president of nonprofit organization Texas Freedom Force, testified against HB 1186, arguing that monuments are not merely a concern of locals, but all Texans. For instance, Confederate monuments would be destroyed in Democrat-run areas, and Texas Revolution monuments could be destroyed in other cities, like San Antonio.
An activist from a “de-Confederate” group also testified against, complaining that Confederate statues are treasonous and unpatriotic. The activist claimed people feared violence by pro-Confederate monument groups.
All bills were left pending in committee.
Monument protection is a legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas.