With numerous businesses, organizations, and individuals speaking out in favor of the change of the Mississippi state flag, below is what Mississippi’s top elected officials have said regarding the situation.
Governor Tate Reeves:
Throughout his career Governor Reeves has stood by his opinion that in the event there is a change to the state flag it needs to be done by a vote of the people. That would require the option to appear on the ballot in a statewide election. That could happen this year in November, if the Legislature move to do so.
Most recently, Reeves has come out against the rumored “two flag” option, saying it would be more divisive than any other option on the table.
Reeves, however, has not given a personal opinion as to whether or not the flag should stay the way it is or be re-designed
Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann:
On Wednesday, Hosemann released a new statement calling for Legislature to make a change to the flag. This indicated he is not leaning toward a referendum for a vote of the people.
“…However, the Legislature in 1894 selected the current flag and the Legislature should address it today. Failing to do so only harms us and postpones the inevitable,” said Hosemann in the statement.
While not a statewide elected official, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn also said on Wednesday he was leaning against a referendum. Gunn told listeners of the Paul Gallo show on Supertalk that the rules could be suspended, then a resolution would be filed. It would require a two thirds vote in both chambers and then a general bill could come forward.
Gunn indicated that he believes there is enough momentum to reach a two-thirds vote.
“I remain optimistic that it can be done if we choose to do it, if we can get the people to do that,” said Gunn. “I try to look at this as what is in the best health and interest of this state. The Legislature is elected by the people, we have a republic in this country thats what we do, we elect people to represent us. They go and speak on our behalf and the Legislature has done that on, as far as I know, every issue but this. It is well within the per-view for the Legislature to handle this.”
Gunn added that he believes it is in the best interest of the state for the Legislature to handle the issue.
Attorney General Lynn Fitch:
Fitch released a statement on Tuesday saying that she believes it is time for the state to change the flag. She also recommended a possible option for a redesign of the flag.
“The addition of the moto ‘In God We Trust,’ from our state seal is the perfect way to demonstrate who we are to all,” said Fitch in her statement.
She said Mississippians should always remember and honor their past but at this time a new flag will offer a new path forward.
State Auditor Shad White:
After being asked what his opinion is on the flag, White released a statement on Facebook.
“If there were a statewide vote to remove the Confederate imagery from our flag, I would vote to remove it,” said White. He said he knows that not everyone agrees with his opinion. He said that he believes there can be a flag that is more unifying than the one the state has now.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney:
Commissioner Chaney said in a statement, “Now is the time for the present Mississippi state flag to be retired and replaced. If citizens want a new flag or want to keep the old flag they should express their opinion to their elected legislators and at the ballot box.”
Secretary of State Michael Watson:
Secretary Watson said the right to choose the flag should be left up to the voter, siding with the use of a referendum to have the design changed.
“As someone who was born and raised in Mississippi, I’ve witnessed the evolution of the state flag debate from almost every angle. I’ve heard all of the proposals from the Legislature and read countless statements from people who feel passionately about keeping our current state flag and those who feel passionately about changing it. After weighing it all, I still believe the people of Mississippi should have the power to decide on the future of our state flag,” said Watson. “Once the Legislature handed the voters the authority to choose our flag in 2001, any option other than allowing them to vote again would be usurping that authority. The flag represents the place we all call home, so every one of us should have a voice in the decision to keep it or change it. By putting it on the ballot, Mississippians retain the power to do more than just talk about this highly-emotional issue; they have the opportunity to stand up and let their voice be heard.”
Treasurer David McRae:
McRae said after prayerful consideration he would be supporting a change of the state flag. He also agreed with AG Fitch that the state seal and “In God We Trust” be placed on the flag.
“After prayerful consideration, I am announcing support for changing Mississippi’s flag. My preference is that we adopt the “In God We Trust” flag featuring our state seal. I will support all efforts to change the flag, whether it’s through a vote by the legislature or a vote by the people. For Mississippi to truly be the Hospitality State, we must ensure all of our citizens and visitors feel welcome and appreciated. As it says in Romans 12:5, “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another,” said Treasurer McRae.
Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson:
Commissioner Gipson stood by the movement for a referendum and a vote by the people on the November ballot in his statement.
“It is my position that any change in the state flag should be made by the people of Mississippi in a statewide vote. I support a change; but it is a decision Mississippians should make, and my sense is our people are ready, willing and able to decide the issue at the ballot box. If put to a referendum, I would support the “In God We Trust” flag as the single best alternative to bring Mississippians of all races and backgrounds together, a goal I believe most Mississippians share.” – Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson
It is unclear at this time what the Legislature will do on the issue before adjourning in the next few days, however with the most recent statements by leadership it is likely there will be movement on the issue.