Bill proposes increased fines for illegally altering confederate monuments, historical buildings

Bill proposes increased fines for illegally altering confederate monuments, historical buildings
A House committee carried over a bill that would require cities or entities pay $10,000 fine each day for illegally altering or moving certain buildings including confederate monuments on public property. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A House committee carried over a bill that would require cities or entities pay $10,000 fine each day for illegally altering or moving certain buildings including confederate monuments on public property.

Current law, which is the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017, prohibits the relocation, removal and alteration of architecturally significant buildings, memorial buildings, or monuments that have been located on public property for 40 or more years.

This can include names on school buildings and confederate monuments.

The bill also allows a city to petition the committee on Alabama Monument Protection to move or alter any buildings if they are 40 years or older and on public property. Current law allows people to petition the removal of a building situated in a location for at least 20 years old and less than 40 years can petition.

The City of Birmingham has faced litigation for putting a barrier around part of a confederate monument. A judge ordered the city to pay $25,000 fine for obstructing the view of the monument.

Earl Hilliard Jr. is the Senior Director of Governmental Affairs for the Birmingham mayor which stands against the bill.

“We have a statue that sits in the public way that the people in the city of Birmingham don’t agree with and find reprehensible. And according to the law and this amendment, we would get charged $10,000 a day for covering that statue," Hilliard said.

Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, is the sponsor of the bill.

“We’re doing our best to preserve history in a way where entities and groups and cities will have an avenue to voice their concerns," Allen said.

Hilliard said they are concerned that they need to go through another entity before moving the monument. He said it is unclear whether this bill would be applied retroactively so that the city would pay $10,000.

Some Democrats and Republicans on the committee said they wanted to preserve this history. However, others said they were hesitant about the daily penalty, saying it could hurt a small town’s budget that does not keep older buildings in proper condition.

State lawmakers could take up the bill again in the committee.

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