Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Bill Heath on MLK statue: 'I hope taxpayers haven't been duped'

On Wednesday, state Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, cast the only opposing vote to HB 1080, a measure to allow the erection of a monument to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the grounds of the state Capitol.

Heath doesn’t often gab with members of the press, but he has put out this statement explaining his vote:

“I am not convinced by the language of the bill 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 …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. According to an April 18, 2009 article attributed to the Associated Press, a fund-raising foundation paid almost $800,000 to Intellectual Properties Management Inc., a [King] family-run entity, for the placement of [the] monument on the National Mall.

In that article, the fee was called a 'licensing fee.' 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.

“With the King family fighting over the sale of Dr. King’s Bible and Nobel Peace prize, I am not comfortable with erecting the [statue] on state property at this time.

“I have not received one request from my district to support such a measure. On the other hand, I have had requests not to support it.”

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About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.