OKLAHOMA CITY — A bill that would authorize the placement of a privately funded Bill of Rights Monument on the grounds of the state Capitol was approved by a state House committee Tuesday, despite concerns by some that the process of authorizing monuments has become too politicized.
The bill passed the States' Rights Committee by a vote of 9-3. It previously was approved by the state Senate and will now go to the full House for consideration.
Rep. Mike Shelton said he has no problem with the Bill of Rights but voted against the bill because he thinks the process of lawmakers choosing which monuments go on Capitol grounds is too politicized.
The Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission is being sued over a decision to allow a Ten Commandments monument to be placed on Capitol grounds.
Groups representing atheists, Satanists and others have come forward to request monuments of their own.
"I think there needs to be a process outside of this Legislature to determine what goes on this property," said Shelton, D-Oklahoma City.
"Most recently, when the Legislature's involved in it, typically we've done a good job of messing stuff up."
Rep. Lewis Moore, who presented Senate Bill 1159 to the committee, said he believes that a monument to the Bill of Rights is perfect for the state Capitol grounds.
"It's a great idea," said Moore, R-Arcadia. "The Bill of Rights is a bill of limitations on the federal government. Government doesn't give you rights. Rights come from God."
Reminding people of that is good, he said.
State Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, Senate author of the bill, said the monument would be paid for by the group that operates the website MyBillofRights.org.
The group is an Arizona-based nonprofit organization that has been raising funds with the goal of erecting Bill of Rights monuments on the grounds of as many state Capitols and town squares as possible.
The group reports that its first Bill of Rights monument on the grounds of a state Capitol was dedicated Dec. 15, 2012, in Phoenix.