Saying the dispute needs to be put to rest, state senators voted Tuesday to force changes in the 9/11 memorial in the park across the street from the Capitol.
HB 2230 would require removal of the panels in the ring-shaped monument which contain 11 phrases that some legislators say are inappropriate or objectionable. The metal would be sold for scrap, with the proceeds plus any donations used to put back the panels without those sayings.
The bill now needs a final roll-call vote. The House already has approved a virtually identical measure.
Most of the more than four dozen phrases carved into the metal ring reflect the events of Sept. 11, 2001 when terrorists flew passenger airplanes into both towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and attempted to hit a fourth target in Washington but were thwarted by passengers.
But a few have provoked an angry reaction from some legislators who said they don't belong on a memorial to the victims of the attacks. These range from one that says ‘fear of foreigners' which was designed to reflect some public sentiments, to political statements like ‘you don't win battles of terrorism with more terrorism.'
Tuesday's preliminary approval came over the objections of Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix.
He pointed out that the committee charged with designing the monument was bipartisan, with half the members named by Republican Gov. Jane Hull and half by her Democratic successor Janet Napolitano. Gallardo said the process of selecting the design and the phrases was debated by that panel in open meetings.
"This is a product of free speech," he said. "And now we are objecting to what is there."
Gallardo also pointed out all of the funds for the memorial were raised privately.
"This ain't taxpayer dollars," he said. "This has nothing to do with the Legislature."
But Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, said the move is "long overdue."
"Now is the time to get it fixed," he said. "And we will in this session."