State Sen. Chris Elliott is still not happy with the Alabama Department of Archives and History for hosting an LGBTQ+ event in June, but also made it clear that he’s not in favor of defunding the agency.
During the special session this month, Elliott (R-Baldwin County) put forward a bill that would have taken back a $5 million appropriation for the agency from the education supplemental budget that passed during the regular session. The Legislature decided not to take up his bill.
Elliott discussed the issue Wednesday on WVNN’s “The Yaffee Program.”
“I am not trying to defund the Alabama Department of Archives and History,” Elliott said. “I am trying to jerk the leash a little bit and say ‘guys, you’re talking to a bunch of appropriators who are telling you to quit it, knock it off or there’s going to be repercussions.’ So, I think there are budget issues they should be concerned about in the regular session.”
While Archives Director Steve Murray defended the event for being a “legitimate historical inquiry,” Elliott said he’s not buying it.
“I went back and watched these programs that they record and push out to everybody and the legitimate history they’re talking about is the history of gay bars in Alabama; the history of drag in Alabama,” he said. “If that’s what they’re calling legitimate history, and they couch in all of these terms like ‘oh we’re looking into original documents and primary texts’ or whatever, they’re talking about a bulletin from a gay bar.
“I’m sorry but I don’t think that’s what Alabamians think is actual legitimate history and what we need to be discussing at the Alabama Department of Archives and History.”
The lawmaker said his bill during the special session was supposed to be a way to send a message to the department.
“The supplemental was meant to be a relatively conservative way to send that message, claw-back the supplemental,” he said. “I think there’s angst among my collegues to really look at the Alabama Department of Archives budget as a whole. That could certainly be more painful for the institution.”
Elliott also believes there needs to be reforms in the department’s operations.
“I also intend to file a bill that will change the way the board is appointed,” he said. “Currently, it’s a self perpetuating board, which means those board members go out and find other board members to replace them and they appoint themselves or the new board members themselves. There needs to be some elected official oversight on this board so that it can get the executive director headed back the correct direction here and away from this woke stuff that Alabamians are not in favor of.
“So, there will be legislation that makes sure that the governor, the lieutenant governor, the speaker, all have some appointments on this board so that they can be responsible to their constituents and the people of Alabama.”