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State lawmakers OK statue for Martin Luther King; Paulding senator only 'no' vote
by Tom Spigolon
March 12, 2014 05:18 PM | 2123 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATLANTA — State lawmakers have taken another step forward to put a statue honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on the grounds of Georgia's Statehouse.

The state Senate voted 49-1, with District 30 State Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, the only "no" vote, today to approve putting a statue of the Atlanta-born clergyman at the state Capitol building or somewhere of similar prominence. The legislation will now head to the House of Representatives for final approval.

Funds for the statue would be raised from private sources.

Heath said he had not heard any requests from his west Georgia constituents to support such a measure.

"On the other hand, I have had requests not to support it,” he said.

He also said the King family's recent legal fight over the sale of King’s Bible and Nobel Peace Prize did not make him "comfortable with erecting the statute on state property at this time."

Heath, whose district includes part of Paulding County, said he voted against the bill because its language does not convince him "that the erection of the statue will never cost the taxpayers."

"Though the bill specifically states private funds must be used in order to erect the statue, it does not expressly exclude from the use of public funds for intellectual property rights. I am not convinced that granting the state an intellectual property license as required in the bill solve the costs concerns."

He said that, according to an April 18, 2009, Associated Press article, a fund-raising foundation paid almost $800,000 to Intellectual Properties Management Inc., a family-run entity, for the placement of a monument on the National Mall.

"In that article, the fee was called a 'licensing fee,' he said. "I hope the taxpayers of Georgia haven’t been duped by a bill that has sailed through the General Assembly in less than two weeks."

In another vote, the Senate approved creating a granite monument depicting the Ten Commandments, the Georgia Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. That bill now goes to Gov. Nathan Deal for approval.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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