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House eyes replacing Confederate general statue

(Edward M. Pio Roda/CNN)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A state House panel next week will consider a measure that calls for replacing the bronze statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith at the U.S. Capitol.

The proposal (HB 141), filed by Miami-Dade County Republican Jose Felix Diaz, stems from a federal law that allows each state to provide two statues of deceased prominent citizens to be placed in the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.

Florida is represented by statues of Smith and former Apalachicola resident John Gorrie, who is considered the father of air conditioning.

Diaz proposed replacing the Smith statue amid reconsideration of Confederate symbols across the country in the aftermath of a racially motivated slaying in June of nine black church members in South Carolina.

The House Economic Development & Tourism Subcommittee is slated to consider Diaz's bill Wednesday, according to the House calendar.

A similar measure (SB 310), sponsored by Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz, has been filed in the Senate.

Under Diaz's bill, an ad hoc committee of the Great Floridians Program within the state Division of Historical Resources would select "a prominent Florida citizen" whose statue would replace the Smith statue.