BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — House-passed legislation to erase Robert E. Lee Day and Confederate Memorial Day from a list of Louisiana holidays was approved 28-4 on Friday by the state Senate.
The measure by state Rep. Matthew Willard, a New Orleans Democrat, awaited a final House vote on non-controversial language changes before going to Gov. John Bel Edwards for his signature. The legislative session is set to end Monday.
Neither of the holidays has been officially observed by state government in years. Backers of the bill said the holidays should be wiped from state law because they commemorated slavery and white supremacy.
Handling the bill on the Senate floor, Sen. Jay Luneau, an Alexandria Democrat, disputed arguments that have come from opponents of the bill that the holidays are part of state history.
“It is important for us to realize that there is a way to commemorate history without glorifying the atrocities,” Luneau said.
The two holidays are among those on a list of holidays a governor can proclaim in addition to other, permanent holidays that include Christmas and Independence Day. The governor is limited in the number he can proclaim in a year.
Nobody spoke against the bill on the Senate floor Friday but there was one significant change. The bill also contained language eliminating George Washington’s birthday from the optional holiday list in deference to the federal President’s Day holiday. Sen. Beth Mizell, a Franklinton Republican, objected to that provision and it was eliminated with an amendment.