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California lawmakers OK bill that would ban Confederate flag displays

California lawmakers OK bill that would ban Confederate flag displays
Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D-Compton), left, and Senate Minority Leader Robert Huff (R-Diamond Bar) smile as Hall's measure seeking to ban California from selling or displaying items with the Confederate flag was approved by the Senate on Monday. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A bill that would prohibit California from displaying or selling merchandise with the Confederate flag is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk, after getting final legislative approval in the Assembly on Thursday.

The measure by Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D-Compton) would prohibit the state from displaying or selling merchandise emblazoned with the Confederate flag. The ban would not apply to images of the flag found in books, digitial media or state museums if displayed for educational or historical purposes.

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Hall introduced the bill, AB 2444, after his mother, on a visit to the Capitol, saw a replica of Confederate money sold in the gift shop. The money contained a picture of the flag.

The bill passed the Assembly on a bipartisan 66-1 vote, a symbol, Hall said, of "standing together united to fend off the ugly hatred of racism that's been portrayed and demonstrated through the emblem of the Confederacy."

The sole no vote in the Assembly was from former GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks, who said the bill would infringe on free speech.

"I'm a strict Constitutionalist," Donnelly said after the vote. "It's painful and lonely."

But Hall said the bill would apply to the state, not individuals, and therefore would not harm free speech.

"The 1st Amendment right applies to an individual, not the government as an institution," he said.

Follow @melmason on Twitter for more on California government and politics.

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