MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — A bill filed during the special session – aimed at stripping away $5 million in funding from the Alabama Department of Archives and History – failed to get consideration, but the lawmaker who filed that bill said his efforts aren’t over.
Sen. Chris Elliot said next session he expects more scrutiny of the Archives’ budget and a bill changing the makeup of their Board of Trustees.
The bill was filed in response to the Archives’ lecture last month, “Invisible No More: Alabama’s LGBTQ+ History,” highlighting the contributions of LGBTQ Alabamians and the histories of LGBTQ organizations in Alabama.
In a letter to lawmakers, Archives Director Steve Murray said the lecture series is promoted to general adult audiences, and the content is “aligned with the agency’s statutory mandate to pursue ‘the diffusion of knowledge in reference to the history and resources of the state.'”
Elliot said he disagrees with the content.
“At one instance they were talking about preserving primary documents, original documents dealing with the history of gay bars and the history of drag in Alabama, and I just don’t know that’s where we need to be focused at the Alabama Department of Archives and History,” Elliot (R- Josephine) said.
Elliot said he and other lawmakers asked Murray beforehand that the lecture not be held. He said his bill filed in the special session was mostly intended to get the Archives’ attention, but he plans to file new legislation that would make structural changes to their Board of Trustees.
“I think members will be taking a keen look at that funding,” Elliot said. “The other bill will deal with the board and reconstituting that board, again, so it’s appointed by elected officials that are accountable to the people of Alabama.”
Archives Communications Coordinator Georgia Ann Hudson said in a statement:
“Our only comment at this point is that the ADAH will be prepared before and during the regular session to share with members additional information on the work of the Archives and to answer any questions they may have.”
The Archives’ letter to lawmakers also outlined where that $5 million that was threatened to be cut is going — including a Children’s Gallery, and new exhibits related to Alabama military history and Native Americans in the state.