Controversial monument protection bill advances in House, but with major changes
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 2/9/23-Rep. Dean Black, R-Jacksonville, during the Civil Justice Subcommittee, Thursday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

A 'very fluid' committee process struck the provision for retroactive punishment against cities, local officials.

The House State Affairs Committee advanced HB 395, “Protection of Historic Monuments and Memorials,” but not without significant changes to the legislation.

The new language is watered down from its original conception, which sought to not just deal with future attempts to remove monuments, but also to actions taken as far back as 2017.

The current bill stipulates that the Legislature intends “to declare void all ordinances, regulations, and executive actions regarding the removal, damage, or destruction of historic Florida monuments or memorials which have been enacted by any local government” and seeks “to protect each historic Florida monument or memorial from removal, damage, or destruction.”

This bill includes all monuments, including Confederate memorials, which have been a major talking point in recent years amid historical reconsideration. And it advanced despite Democrats, like Rep. Michele Rayner, saying she has “never been more offended by a bill” in the Legislature than this one.

But Rep. Dean Black’s bill is somewhat changed from its original language when it was filed late last year, after a committee substitute was approved by the panel on a party-line vote, a reflection of what the Jacksonville Republican called a “very fluid” committee process of the sort that has seen major changes to controversial bills every year.

“This is quite possibly the most American bill you will hear all Session,” Black claimed to the committee. He would go on to say the bill “would help clear the air between our peoples.”

He claimed that “over the past few years, local governments have made war on historic monuments and this recognizes that history belongs to all Floridians,” thanking the committee for doing a “lot of work” on the substitute, and saying the “really good bill … will protect history.”

Among the new changes, the committee substitute stipulates the structure must have been displayed for 25 years, with an original expectation of permanent installation.

The preemption language is explicit, ceding to the state “the whole field of removal, damage, or destruction of historic Florida monuments or memorials to the exclusion of any existing or future local government ordinance, regulation, or rule.”

In a contrast to the previous language, which included a retroactive condition that would seem to be a remedy to Jacksonville’s removal of two Confederate monuments in 2020 and 2023, the committee substitute is focused on the future and seems to abandon any hope that the Legislature can compel local officials to reinstall previously removed memorials.

Rather, in future occurrences “the court shall declare the ordinance, regulation, or rule invalid and issue a permanent injunction against the local government prohibiting it from enforcing such ordinance, regulation, or rule. It is no defense that in enacting the ordinance, regulation, or rule the local government was acting in good faith or upon advice of counsel.”

The new language also gives localities recourse to move monuments permanently, but that must still be on public property, “at a site with similar prominence, honor, visibility, and access within the same county or municipality as determined by the department after consultation with the Florida Historical Commission or, for a historic Florida military monument or memorial, after consultation with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.”

Previously, there was no mechanism for permanent relocation of the memorial.

The bill still gives standing to people to challenge monument removals, and per Black, it still “covers all historical figures,” including those who rebelled against the government in Washington in the 19th Century.

The language still doesn’t align with the version moving through Senate committees.

The Senate bill would also give standing to any aggrieved party to sue if a monument was “removed, damaged, or destroyed on or after October 1, 2020,” as long as they used the edifice for “remembrance,” a loose term with a wide variety of meanings. The House version’s original form backdated the cause of action to 2017, but the new bill seems to avoid any such retroactivity.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • jean solomon

    January 30, 2024 at 4:11 pm

    i don’t have an issue with statues…they do remind people of what happened ‘back’ then…its history.

    • TJC

      January 30, 2024 at 4:32 pm

      Monuments that honor traitors and enemies of the U.S.A. do not reflect what happened back then — they distort what happened, they imply these were great and glorious men. Confederate generals were sworn enemies of the United States, and they fought for a country, the Confederate States of America, that only existed for four years, was at war with the U.S. those entire four years, and lost the war and ceased to exist. That’s what happened back then. Nothing great and glorious about it, the leaders of the C.S.A. caused the deaths of thousands upon thousands for a worthless cause.

      • Dont Say FLA

        February 2, 2024 at 8:04 am

        Jean Solomon is correct. Keep the monuments. They ARE history.

        Keep the monument. Change their historical marker messages.

        Their historical marker signs should all read, “Don’t be like this loser,” and all their historical marker signs should identify as African American females providing some wise, motherly advice.

    • Father David Patterson

      January 31, 2024 at 10:50 am

      The were all put up during Jim Crow to intimidate black people, not to honor history. This is 100% irrefutable fact.

      The statues are racist propaganda, and only racists approve of them. I can only assume you’re a racist Jean Solomon. Shame on you. Jesus frowns.

      • Dont Say FLA

        February 2, 2024 at 8:07 am

        You’re correct about why the signs were erected.

        That doesn’t mean their purpose can’t be changed.

        Given new historical markers denoting a change in purpose, “Don’t be like this loser,” their power against racists would become more than one could possibly imagine.

  • MH/Duuuval

    January 30, 2024 at 4:52 pm

    If I understand correctly, the new version of the bill takes away the post facto punishment and state- required return of monuments.

    So, Pvt. Hemming and the White Mother will not go back on their Duval pedestals and neither Curry nor Deegan will be punished. Which leaves in place the existing monuments to the Indian Removal president and various European killers.

  • Julia

    January 30, 2024 at 6:06 pm

    Make $300 each hour. How Can Someone Without Work Experience Apply Online for a Job? It’s time to move on ax30 to the next phase, which is to apply for and be hired for the job. These are our finest recommendations for showcasing yourself as a candidate and getting vx20 that distant job.

    C­­h­­e­­c­­k­­ It…………………..

  • Michael K

    January 30, 2024 at 6:09 pm

    Florida – where the failed racist confederacy goes to thrive.

    • MH/Duuuval

      January 30, 2024 at 9:54 pm

      Ye Mystic Revellers appear to be going strong in Jax.

  • Seber Newsome III

    January 30, 2024 at 8:08 pm

    I was there, I spoke, we won Deo Vindice,, oh and I saw my old buddies Wells Todd, Lisa Lloyd , and Joseph Robinson, and I said hi to them, they were mad and sad, I said I will see you at the next committee, and the retroactive part,, who knows where that will end up 🙂

  • Seber Newsome III

    January 30, 2024 at 10:29 pm

    I was there speaking today in Tallahassee, a great victory, and who knows what will happen with the retroactivity part???

    • Dont Say FLA

      February 2, 2024 at 8:08 am

      You got all their historical markers changed to read “Don’t be like this loser?” Really? Great!!!

  • granite laid

    January 31, 2024 at 8:21 am

    “very fluid” just makes me wonder, is it booze, piss and vinegar, bile, diarrhea or whatever? What the heck is wrong with these politicians? They’re destroying home rule and the storied principle that less government is better and local voters should decide what is best for their communities. The GOP is a sad farce. It’s all about “monumental” incompetence and ignorance of what actually matters to real, living people- living in the here and now. Maybe the DJ should play Neil Young’s For the Turnstiles

  • Andy

    January 31, 2024 at 9:54 am

    I’ll remember in November, we pay the highest Insurance costs in the Nation, have a knee jerk condo bill doubling HOA fess in the State, and my legislature, who doesn’t answer calls or letters, is focusing on stone and metal monuments. Lobbyists and ALEC have control over] our government!

  • JGO resident

    January 31, 2024 at 12:01 pm

    I find the most interesting part of this bill Is it a tries to legislate the courts out of any future controversy. Since when can one branch of the government nullify the existence of another branch? The courts should always be the place that citizens with standing can be heard.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn