Civil War-Era Florida Monuments Could be Protected by Proposed Bill

Civil War-Era Florida Monuments Could be Protected by Proposed Bill

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
December 29, 2023

Florida Senator Jonathan Martin (R-33) has filed a bill that would protect public monuments, including Confederate memorials, from being removed or relocated without legislative approval. 

Senator Martin’s “Historical Monuments and Memorials Protection Act” would direct Florida’s Historical Commission to counsel Florida executive officials on monument preservation. 

The act claims 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.”

 Such obligation, continues the act, includes circumventing “any local government 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.” 

Martin attempted to pass a similar bill last February. Despite being approved by two separate committees, however, the proposal was never brought to the floor for a vote. 

Under Martin’s new legislation, local governments and individuals are barred from unilaterally removing monuments displayed on public property.

Aside from the imposition of penalties for those violating the bill, individuals involved in the design, care, erection, or care of the monument would be able to sue the violators for damages.

Additionally, individuals regularly using the monument for remembrance would also be eligible to sue violators of the bill. 

Local governments that remove, alter, or damage a monument would have to restore it to its original condition. If the local government cannot restore the monument, Florida would assume restoration responsibilities. However, all arts, cultural, and historic preservation funding would be withheld from the local government until it reimburses Florida for the restoration cost. 

If passed, the bill would take effect on July 1, 2024. 

Recently, Martin filed another bill that  would alter Florida law regarding how immunization requirements are to be adopted and expand potential exemptions to them.

If passed, the FDH and any other state or local authorities would be prohibited from imposing any vaccine requirements without legislative approval.

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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