A bill that would declare Nov. 7 of each year the Victims of Communism Memorial Day has moved past the initial hurdles to become law.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, is similar to a model resolution by the American Legislative Exchange Council that also designates Nov. 7 as the day of remembrance.
That’s the day the Bolshevik Revolution took place in Russia in 1917.
Thorpe told the House Government Committee Thursday that the point of House Bill 2259 is to remember those that have died under communist rule in countries like China.
The bill would not make the day a state holiday, but a “remembrance day,” Thorpe said.
In 2017, President Donald Trump declared Nov. 7 the National Day for Victims of Communism.
Committee member Rep. Jennifer Jermaine, D-Chandler, thanked Thorpe for the bill, and said her great-grandfather served on the eastern front and that the bill “means a lot to the survivors of WWI.”
But another Democrat on the panel, Rep. Isela Blanc, D-Tempe, said that while she understood the “atrocities of communism,” there are more important issues that the legislature could be addressing, including homelessness. She voted “present” on the bill.
Rep. Lorenzo Sierra, D-Cashion, echoed Blanc’s sentiments.
“I’m struggling mightily with this,” Sierra said.
He said he wasn’t opposed to recognizing the victims of communist regimes, but wasn’t sure that singling them out for recognition – and not other victimized groups, including Native Americans – was good public policy. Sierra also voted “present” on the bill.
The bill passed out of committee unanimously, with 9 votes for and 2 voting present.