AUSTIN — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has announced that a special committee will review artwork in the Texas Senate chamber, delivering on a promise he made this year during debate on a bill that would have made it harder to remove Confederate monuments and other historical markers.
Patrick, a Republican who oversees the upper chamber as Senate president, named seven senators — four Republicans and three Democrats — to the committee. They will be in charge of reviewing “the history and procedures for the placement of art and other decor” in the chamber, according to Patrick’s office.
Patrick pledged to create the committee during this year’s legislative session, when the Senate passed a bill aimed at changing how and when historical monuments and memorials could be moved, altered or removed. The bill, sponsored by Conroe Republican Brandon Creighton, passed along partisan lines in the Senate but faltered in the Texas House, where it was amended then failed to get a floor vote.
While the bill was sponsored in the House by the state’s only black Republican lawmaker, black senators raised concerns about it during more than four hours of heated debate in that chamber.
“There was a time I would go to jail for challenging you as I am challenging you today in this diplomatic environment,” Sen. Borris Miles, D-Houston, told Creighton, who he described as a personal friend. “As your brother, I’m telling you the bill that you’re carrying … is disgraceful to myself.”
Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, pointed over his shoulder at the larger-than-life sized painting of Albert Sidney Johnston that hung on the chamber wall behind him. Johnston was a Confederate general who served in the U.S. Army and was secretary of war for the Republic of Texas before the Civil War.
“It’s a painful reminder of the history of Texas,” West told the Austin American-Statesman at the time. “I often wonder why a Confederate general hangs in the state Capitol, specifically in the…