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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: April 26, 2017 02:18 PM
From: Representative Rosita C. Youngblood
To: All House members
Subject: Commonwealth Advisory Board on Geographic Names
To help assist residents, organizations and local governments in their attempts to change potentially offensive or outdated geographic names, I plan to introduce a bill creating the Commonwealth Advisory Board on Geographic Names.

Several states, including South Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, North Carolina, Alaska and Texas, to name a few, have established boards or committees at the state level to help navigate the often burdensome and complicated process by which the federal government follows to make official changes to geographic location names. In these states, and several others, these boards serve as a guide for standardizing the process for local and state governments, as well as local organizations and private citizens.

Across the Commonwealth, there are certain geographic location names that the public would like to change -- either based on outdated or somewhat offensive terms, or to possibly honor a fellow resident or community hero. These location names should be replaced by names that better reflect the Commonwealth’s people, history, and heritage, and the process to update or replace geographic names should not be a complicated web of federal bureaucracy.

Most geographic names must be changed at the federal level, through the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, the federal agency that determines official geographic location name changes. This federal agency is a reactive body and does not initiate name proposals. It accepts proposals from local, State, Tribal, and Federal agencies, as well as from local organizations and private citizens. And as I have mentioned, the process by which this agency follows to initiate official alterations to geographic location names is burdensome, complicated and lengthy.

The establishment of an advisory board to address certain geographic location names, which under my proposal would be an appointed, bi-partisan 12-member board with legislative and executive representation, would be beneficial in assisting local and state governments, as well as local organizations and private citizens, in the burdensome process of proposing changes to certain geographic location names.

I respectfully ask for your support and co-sponsorship of this legislation.

Introduced as HB1767