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Senators Compromise on Alamo Bill

Compromise isn't the first word that comes to mind when you think of the Alamo. But today, state senators from San Antonio reached an agreement on a bill to improve how Texas' most historic site is managed.

Karen Thompson of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) testifies at the House Committee on Culture, Recreation and...

Compromise isn't the first word that comes to mind when you think of the Alamo. But today, state senators from San Antonio reached an agreement on a bill to improve how Texas' most historic site is managed.

After negotiations on the floor with Republican Sen. Jeff Wentworth, Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte's Senate Bill 1841 now places the Alamo under the jurisdiction of the General Land Office. It would also give the commissioner of the General Land Office and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas until the end of the year to work out a contract that would outline the role the Daughters would play in the care and maintenance of the Alamo.

Van de Putte’s bill is one of several filed this session in response to accusations that the Daughters, the longtime managers of the Alamo, were slow to make necessary repairs, and were not raising the money needed to care for Texas' most iconic location. (The Daughters have argued that they are doing a good job of caring for the Shrine of Texas Liberty — and have done so for 106 years.) 

“I kept the Daughters as custodians and did so because of their legacy of caring for the Alamo,” Van de Putte said. But she has been baffled by some of the DRT's actions in recent history — such as taking years to address cracks in the roof of the Alamo and entering into a contract with a California promotions company which the organization eventually had to back out of.

Sparks flew when Van de Putte first brought the bill up today, largely because Wentworth said they hadn't reached an agreement on who would have jurisdiction over the Alamo. At different points, the Texas Historical Commission and even Texas Parks & Wildlife had been considered. Wentworth argued the governor did not want the Alamo to go to the commission, which Perry earlier recommended defunding, but instead to an agency with a single statewide elected official.

After settling on the General Land Office, Wentworth voted for the Senate bill. But he said he still prefers a bill that cleared the House two weeks ago that would keep the Daughters as custodians of the Alamo and require the DRT to turn in an annual financial and transparency report. That bill also establishes an advisory board.

Karen Thompson, historian general for the DRT, said the choice of the General Land Office to oversee the Alamo is logical. Nevertheless, Thompson said the Daughters still prefer the House bill because it “will allow us to continue to work and do what we think is best for the Alamo.”

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