A bill advancing in the Arkansas Legislature would effectively block an effort to erect a monument to Satan on state Capitol grounds. The Arkansas House passed a bill on Monday to prevent the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission from considering monument proposals without pre-approval from the Legislature.
Republican state Representative Kim Hammer of Benton carried the bill, arguing "If there is going to be a monument that is placed on the Capitol grounds or if there is going to be a monument that would be removed from the Capitol grounds, we are the gatekeepers to that decision.”
Currently monument proposals can come both through a Capitol grounds commission or the Legislature. They then ultimately need legislative approval. Hammer suggested having two avenues to monument proposals is wasteful.
“The problem is if it starts on the commission end and gets down where we still have to vote on it. There are situations where money would be expended by both the commission – to the tune of about four to five thousand dollars per monument – but also for the private entity that is trying to get the monument placed, they could be out architectural fees.”
A statue to Baphomet has been proposed to the grounds commission in response to a 10 Commandments monument approved by the Legislature. The Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission is in the process of considering the proposal.
The bill, approved 91-0 in the 100 member chamber, advances to the Arkansas Senate.