FRANKFORT — House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Wednesday that he would file legislation during the 2016 General Assembly to move the controversial statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the Capitol rotunda to the Kentucky History Center in downtown Frankfort.
Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said it was “inappropriate” to display the statue in the seat of state government.
He revealed his proposal in response to a reporter’s question after Wednesday’s monthly meeting of legislative leaders.
Stumbo said he would introduce a resolution early in the legislative session, which begins in January, to get the statue out of the Capitol.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he didn’t know how the legislation would fare in his chamber. He said he hadn’t thought about the issue.
Raoul Cunningham, president of the Kentucky State Conference and Louisville chapter of the NAACP, was elated with Stumbo’s proposal.
“We will do everything we can to work with him,” Cunningham said.
A recent Bluegrass Poll showed that 73 percent of Kentuckians think the statue should not be moved.
Several politicians called for its removal after nine black people were killed in a South Carolina church by a young man who had an affinity for Confederate symbols.
Both major political party nominees for governor — Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin — have said the statue should be moved.
Meanwhile, a state panel has released more than 3,000 public comments it received on what should be done with the statue.
The state Historic Properties Advisory Commission sought the comments and then voted 7-2 last week to keep the statue in the Capitol, where it stands with statues of President Abraham Lincoln and three other prominent Kentuckians.
The all-white panel also voted to set up a committee that would provide more historical context to accompany the statues in the Capitol.
The public comments reflected a range of opinions on the statue, including some that called for its removal because it is a symbol of racism and others that urged the panel to leave it in place because it is a part of Kentucky’s heritage.
One writer said that if the statue was removed, all public references to the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. also should be removed from state property.
About 1,800 commenters wanted to keep the statue in the Capitol, and about 1,225 wanted to remove it.
The state Finance and Administration Cabinet, which includes the advisory commission, released the public comments after the Herald-Leader filed a request under the Open Records Act to review them.
For security reasons, cabinet officials deleted contact information of those who submitted comments. (KPA)