Following the passage of HCR 79 by the Mississippi House of Representatives on Saturday, the Senate voted the same bill out of that chamber, reaching the two-thirds requirement to do so by a vote of 36 to 14.  The historic resolution allows for the decommissioning of the Mississippi flag which features the Confederate battle emblem and establishes the process by which a new state flag would be chosen.

 

The House, which authored the initial resolution, voted earlier 85-34, to do the same.

Senator and President Pro Tem Dean Kirby (R) and Senator Briggs Hopson (R) presented HCR 79 to the members on the floor after the measure passed out of the Senate Rules Committee with minimal discussion.

Lt. Gov. Hosemann (R) referred HCR 79 to the Rules Committee, where it passed at 3:30 on Saturday afternoon.  Upon entering a voice vote to suspend the rules was initially made but challenged.  On a roll call vote, the Yeahs were 36 and the Nays were 14 with applause following the historic vote.

Senator Angela Hill (R) attempted to make a motion to block the resolution from being taken up. It was killed on a vote of 36 to 14.

“We have a decision to make which direction will Mississippi go which path we will take in our state,” said Hopson.

He made four arguments as to why it is time to move forward. Hopson said one, this flag is not unifying of all of Mississippi. Second he says it is inevitable that one day the flag will be changed. Third, it is the Legislatures responsibility to make these tough decisions and lastly it hinders economic development for the state.

“I’m ready to rip the bandaid off,” said Hopson. “This scab keeps getting picked at and it si coming back again. It is time for us to make a decision in 2020 on what kind of flag will represent this state.”

Senator Chris McDaniel (R) was the first to speak against the bill. He has been publicly vocal about his opposition to change the flag without a vote of the people taking to Facebook frequently to explain why he stands on that side of the issue.

In reference to a recent poll McDaniel saw that showed some people would like to see the removal of the American flag, he said, “I need a number… if 20 percent are offended, if 40 percent are offended, should we take it down? It is a terrible slippery slope.” McDaniel added, “They will push and they will push and they will never give up.”

McDaniel said the Legislature’s power only comes from the people and he does not believe they are following the peoples lead on this issue. McDaniel said his position today is not necessarily about the flag, it is for the right for Mississippians to decide for themselves.

Senator Barbara Blackmon (D) also spoke in favor of the bill today. She began by saying there are some things in life that you have to reflect on and that this is one of those moments for her.

“Just as I never thought in my lifetime to see a Tiger Woods, just as I never thought to see a President Barak Obama, I would have never thought I would see this flag come down in my lifetime. This is historical for my sons, this is historical for my grandchildren and for those unborn. I will know exactly where I was on this day,” said Blackmon.

Senator Hillman Frazier (D) was last to speak on the bill. He said as he approached this vote he thought of the future generations of Mississippi. He charged Legislators to pray hard and focus over this decision so that their children and grandchildren do not have the same battles they do.

“Focus on the future of this state cause thats why you’re here to make things better,” said Frazier.

The suspension of the rules now allows for the general bill related to the flag change to be filed and considered in both chambers. The parameters of the bill as offered seek to the do the following:

  • Delete code section 3-3-16, which is the current design of the state flag.
  • Establish a commission that will create a new design to be voted on by the people in November. That design must be submitted by September 14, 2020. The design submitted cannot include the Confederate battle symbol and must include the words “In God we Trust.” That one design must receive a majority vote by the people of the state. If that does not happen, the commission will try for another design at a later date.

Both chambers are now generally expected on Sunday to pass the related bill which would then likely head to the Governor for his signature sometime Monday. Governor Tate Reeves said Saturday morning he would sign it in an effort to unify the state.