Bill to separate MLK Day from Robert E. Lee Day passes House, awaits signature by Gov. Hutchinson

Gov. Hutchinson on MLK Jr. Holiday

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - On Friday, the Arkansas House of Representatives passed a bill that would separate a holiday commemorating Confederate General Robert E. Lee on the same day as we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Day.

The bill passed with a vote of 66 for and 11 against. Five representatives voted present. 

During the hearing of the bill, several representatives spoke out against the bill as well as for it, but none were as passionate as state Representative Jana Della Rosa (R-Rogers).

Della Rosa said she was mad that the bill had been introduced at all. She said the bill would put Lee in the basement and claimed that the passage of the bill would show Arkansas was "embarrassed he ever existed."

Della Rosa also said moving Robert E. Lee Day to the second Saturday of October would be relegated to a memorial day that everyone will forget. She thinks that celebrating Robert E. Lee is more important than a day that would be shared with Crosswalk Safety Day.

Rep. George B. McGill (D-Fort Smith) speaking for the bill asked that representative set their emotions aside when they vote and to "let the educators educate."

The bill nows heads to the desk of Governor Asa Hutchinson who has expressed his support of the bill.

Governor Asa Hutchinson released a statement shortly after the passage of the bill:

"I want to thank members of the House for their bipartisan support and passage of SB 519, and I especially want to thank Sen. Wallace and Rep. Hodges for their leadership on this landmark bill.  The support for a separate holiday to recognize Martin Luther King far exceeded my expectations and speaks well of the General Assembly and our state.  This bill was one of my priorities, and I was honored to testify for it in both Chambers. I look forward to having a signing ceremony that emphasizes the historic dynamic of this new day."

Hutchinson also announced he plans to hold a news conference on Monday to sign SB519 into law.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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