Mississippians will vote for new flag after historic vote in legislature
On Sunday in a historic vote, both the Senate and House of Representatives voted to take down the current state flag of Mississippi with its Confederate battle emblem and give Mississippi voters the ability to approve a new flag in November. House Bill 1796 passed in the Senate by a vote of 37-14. The House originated the bill and voted 91-23 earlier Sunday afternoon to take down the flag.
On Saturday, a two-thirds majority vote was needed from the House and Senate to suspend the rules, because the time had passed to consider a flag bill or any other general legislation.
Only a majority was needed in the House and Senate to approve the actual bill that retired the flag.
The Senate voted 36 -14 on Saturday for the rules suspension, only one more vote than needed for the two-thirds majority, In the House, rules suspension vote was 85-34, with 82 votes needed. Gov. Tate Reeves has said he will sign the bill to retire the flag.
Locally, Senator Angela Hill, and Representatives Stacey Wilkes, Timmy Ladner, and Steve Seymour voted no while Representative Jansen Owen voted yes. Sen. Tyler McCaugh, who would have voted nay, announced a pair with Sen. Philip Moran, R, of District 46 representing Hancock and Harrison counties, who would have voted yea.
The vote did not come in the Senate without impassioned speeches and a last-minute attempt to amend the bill, led by Senator Angela Hill, R-Picayune. Hill’s amendment would have put the current flag and three alternate designs on a statewide ballot. The amendment failed 39-19.
Gov. Tate Reeves, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Speaker Philip Gunn will appoint three people each to the commission. The governor’s three appointees must be representatives from the Mississippi Economic Council, the Mississippi Arts Commission, and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Hosemann and Gunn face no specific commission appointment requirements.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History will have up to 15 days after Reeves signs the bill into law to officially retire the current state flag.
Terms of the new bill:
· The new design must include the words, “In God We Trust.”
· The commission will, with public input, recommend one new flag design by Sept. 14.
· A special election will be held Nov. 3, when voters can vote “yes” or “no” on the new design with no write-ins allowed.
· The Legislature will adopt the new flag after it convenes in January 2021.
· If voters reject the new design, the commission will get back to work and another election will be held.