The North Carolina House of Representatives has tentatively approved a bill that could make it more difficult to take down the state's Confederate statues.
The measure would create a lengthy process for removing historic monuments from state property, as well as mandate cities and public universities to acquire state permission before removal.
Republicans say Civil War soldiers, in particular, should be honored the same way soldiers from other wars are honored.
"I think the bill is designed to make sure that folks who did things in the past, whether we view them as right or wrong today, their honor is protected," Rep. George Cleveland (R- Onslow) said.
But some Democrats oppose the plan because they say it could make it harder to remove symbols that some people find offensive. They also say the decision whether to keep certain monuments should stay at the city or county level.
"Defending Confederate monuments in my opinion is not something that we should do. It's something that's offensive to me, and is offensive to a lot of other people," Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-Guildford) said.
Across the South, states have been re-examining symbols of the Civil War since last month's shooting at the predominantly black Emanuel AME Baptist Church in Charleston, S.C. In North Carolina, there are more than 120 Civil War monuments, outnumbering state monuments commemorating any other event.
The state House of Representatives is scheduled to take a final vote on the measure Tuesday.