The newish Democratic majorities in the Virginia General Assembly just keep on creating new examples for North Carolina to follow. The Old Dominion has already expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and passed legislation to protect LGBT residents from discrimination and decriminalize marijuana. Now comes word of progress on the vexing subject of Confederate monuments.
This is from a story by reporter Ned Oliver of the Virginia Mercury:
“Cities and counties around Virginia will be allowed to remove the Confederate monuments they own and maintain under legislation the General Assembly sent to Gov. Ralph Northam on Sunday.
The vote comes two and a half years after a fatal white supremacist rally in Charlottesville around a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which the city was blocked from taking down under a state law protecting war memorials….
New Democratic majorities in the House of Delegates and Senate this year broadly agreed local governments should be able to decide where and how they memorialize the Confederacy, but differed on the process localities should have to go through before taking action.
The Senate had proposed a 100-plus day process that included a mandatory review by the state’s Department of Historic Resources at the localities’ expense. It also pushed to require local governing boards to approve any changes by a supermajority two-thirds vote, a threshold Charlottesville would not have met with its 2017 vote on the issue.
Lawmakers in the House opposed those requirements and ultimately were successful in negotiating final language that requires only a 30-day notice ahead of a public hearing. If localities choose, they can also hold a local referendum on the question.”
While the new, soon-to-be law seems unlikely to be a final solution to the challenge posed by monuments that were often erected decades after the Civil War as celebrations of white supremacy, it would be a vast improvement over North Carolina’s 2015 law that purports to bar the removal of such monuments.
As a Charlottesville lawmaker, Del. Sally Hudson, said of the new legislation:
“It’s a huge step, but it’s just one more step in a long process. In the short term what it means is this decision making will go back to Charlottesville where it belongs.”
Let’s hope North Carolina legislators muster the courage to consider similar legislation in the session that commences in April.