State

Texas Lawmaker Files Bill to Protect Historical Monuments, Cenotaph

State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) has filed a bill meant to protect historic monuments on the anniversary of Texas’ independence.

“On this Texas Independence Day, it is important that we remember the lessons and stories of the past and preserve our storied history for the future,” Slaton stated.

“At a time when monuments and statues representing our history and traditions continue to be destroyed across America and even within Texas itself, it is more important than ever that we protect our historic monuments in the public square.”

The legislation would not grant all monuments total immunity. Rather, it establishes an orderly process for removing most of them.

Currently, the Texas Historical Commission and the State Preservation Board wield the power alongside the legislature to remove or change monuments that have stood for less than 20 years. Slaton’s bill would limit this power to the legislature alone.

Monuments that have stood for 20 to 40 years would be removable by a two-thirds vote of each house of the legislature, and monuments that have stood for at least 40 years would be totally safe from removal, relocation, or change.

Some Democrats have put Confederate monuments in their crosshairs this session, though Slaton’s bill nods in a different direction: the Alamo. The cenotaph that stands before the Alamo church to commemorate the fallen defenders has taken center stage in the plan to renovate the site. Aligned with Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush in his support for moving the cenotaph away from the remaining Alamo structures, Roberto Treviño made the move a staple of his vision for the project as one that respected the Mexican side of the story.

Slaton’s bill adds the word “cenotaph” to the list of monuments and memorials that his bill would protect. The bill would also include the names of bridges, areas, and parks in the definition of “monument or memorial,” thus granting them protection as well.

The Texas Historical Commission denied the City of San Antonio’s request to move the cenotaph last November, keeping it safely in place. Leadership in the Alamo Plan has slowly embraced the reality of the decision: Bush recently reversed course in his position on the cenotaph, and Treviño has been removed from leadership in the Alamo project.

Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) and Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) had also promised to file legislation to ensure the orderly removal of monuments in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests and riots that left one historic structure on the state capitol grounds damaged. Neither lawmaker has filed such a bill yet in this session, though Creighton filed a similar bill last session that died in a House committee.

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