Elected officials who are involved in the removal of military or other historical statues could face fines or removal under a measure set to come before the Florida Legislature during its next regular session.
Filed on Nov. 9 by Florida Rep. Dean Black (R-Jacksonville) HB 395, the Protection of Historical Monuments and Memorials bill would subject any elected official or member of a local government who directs, allows or votes to remove a historical monument or memorial that is dedicated to a historical person, entity, event, or series of events, or which honors or recounts the military service of any past or present military personnel to a civil penalty of $5,000. Those who knowingly and willfully take down the statue or memorial may be removed from office by the Governor.
The bill allows local governments to temporarily relocate a monument or memorial for more than 12 months to accommodate construction.
Afterward, it must be replaced at its original prominent location or as close to it as possible to allow the public easy access to it.
“The Legislature finds that an accurate and factual history belongs to all Floridians and future generations and the state has an obligation to protect and preserve such history,” the bill’s text read. “Accordingly, the state preempts any local elected officials who may be swayed by undue influence by groups who may feel offended or hurt by certain actions in the history of the state or the nation.”
Lawmakers will consider the bill during the next regular session of the Legislature, which convenes on Jan. 9.