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Jay Fant files bill to protect Confederate monuments from removal, desecration

Rep. Jay Fant, a Jacksonville Republican running for Attorney General, filed the latest in a series of base-pleasing bills Monday for the 2018 Legislative Session.

Fant’s HB 1359 (the “Soldiers’ and Heroes’ Monuments and Memorials Protection Act”) contends that any wartime monument erected after 1822 on public property may only be moved for its repair or the repair of the property containing it.

If a monument is to be “sold or repurposed,” it is to be placed somewhere of “equal prominence” as the original location. This subjective criterion may be a stumbling block for this measure in committee.

Willful defacement of a monument: a third-degree felony.

The bill’s chief imports: forestalling removal of Confederate monuments, as happened most recently in Memphis. And establishing criminal penalties for tampering, which would supersede the ordinance code or enforcement inclinations of rogue municipalities.

Fant’s hometown Jacksonville dealt with a Confederate monument removal debate in 2017; Jacksonville City Council President Anna Brosche took a position in favor of moving monuments to museums, as they divided the community

Polling was not in her favor, however, and Council didn’t back her play with any legislation.

Fant’s legislative docket is serving up more red meat than the butcher at Avondale’s renowned Pinegrove market.

If enacted, his “Free Enterprise Protection Act” would: “Ensure that Florida business owners are protected from government sanctions and penalties when they are exercising their first amendment rights.”

Fant was inspired to file FEPA by the case of a Colorado baker who balked at making a wedding cake for a gay couple, as said the baker saw the act of baking as sanctioning their choice to marry. FEPA would protect the free speech rights of businesses.

Fant also is carrying the House version of a Senate bill that would allow people to carry guns to, from, and during events in Florida’s great outdoors; if it clears the governor’s desk, everyone from crabbers to dog-walkers will be protected while packing heat.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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