LEE COUNTY, Ala. — Back in May, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act into law.
The bill does not allow local governments to move, remove, alter or rename monuments, architecturally significant buildings, memorial buildings or memorial streets that sit on public property, which have been in place for at least 40 years.
The bill also prohibits local governments from moving, removing, renaming, altering any architecturally significant buildings, memorial buildings or memorial streets that are at least 20 years old and less than 40 years old.
Confederate monuments are also included.
In addition, the bill also does not allow local governments to rename memorial schools that have been on public property for 20 or more years. A memorial school is defined as any K-12 or two-year college facility named for a person, event, group, movement or military service.
The current bill says the renaming or removing requires the approval from the 11 person Committee on Alabama Monument Protection.
State Senator Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) feels that the decision to rename a memorial schools should be left up to the specific school district. He has already pre-filed a bill that if passed would allow that.
“Schools are not monuments,” Sen. Brewbaker said. “They are functioning institutions, and we’ve always let local school boards control those institutions, and I don’t see any reason to change that now.”
Senator Brewbaker’s bill does not change the names of any schools, but makes things as they were back in May.
Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) proposed the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act. Senator Allen said the bill protects the history of Alabama and is a good method of teaching history to the young people of the state.
He disagrees with the idea of the decision to rename a school being placed in the hands of a school district.
“The reasons why we put together a committee that’s appointed by the speaker, pro tem and the governor, it’s important that we have a committee of men and women of all parts of the state that will be able to envision on the purposes of protecting history,” Sen. Allen said. “That’s why the committee was formed. Each section of the state has different monuments, statues, historic buildings and certainly, it’s our job as policymakers to be able to protect these very important parts of Alabama history.”
The next legislative session begins Jan. 9.