For Immediate Release: March 10, 2016
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, Brian.Coy@governor.virginia.gov

Governor Vetoes Legislation Restricting Local Authority to Remove or Modify Monuments or Memorials

 

Today Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed House Bill 587, which would hamper the authority of Virginia local governments to make their own decisions about monuments or war memorials within their jurisdictions.

The Governor also directed Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, the former Mayor of Hampton, to form a work group with the Department of Historic Resources to begin a dialogue and study best practices about how to balance the preservation of history with the legitimate concerns many Virginians have about certain types of monuments and memorials.

The Governor’s full veto statement is below:

March 10, 2016

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 587, which overrides the authority of local governments to remove or modify monuments or war memorials erected before 1998. 

The rich history of our Commonwealth is one of our great assets. My administration strongly supports historic preservation efforts, including the preservation of war memorials and monuments. However, this legislation would have been a sweeping override of local authority over these monuments and memorials including potential ramifications for interpretive signage to tell the story of some of our darkest moments during the Civil War. 

There is a legitimate discussion going on in localities across the Commonwealth regarding whether to retain, remove, or alter certain symbols of the Confederacy. These discussions are often difficult and complicated. They are unique to each community’s specific history and the specific monument or memorial being discussed. This bill effectively ends these important conversations. 

I am committed to supporting a constructive dialogue regarding the preservation of war memorials and monuments, but I do not support this override of local authority. 

Accordingly, I veto this bill. 

Sincerely,

 

Terence R. McAuliffe

 

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