House votes to remove Mississippi state flag, sends bill to Senate

The roll call for the vote on HB 1796. Photo courtesy of MS Statewatch

History continues to unfold as the Mississippi House of Representatives has voted to remove the current state flag and the bill now heads over to the Senate.

The members of the House voted 91-23 in favor of HB 1796, ‘an act to establish the commission to redesign the Mississippi state flag’. 

Shortly after the bill was introduced and passed by the House Rules Committee,  it was brought to the House floor. Rep. Jason White explained the key portions of the bill including the stipulations that the flag-designing committee must follow – no Confederate battle emblem and it must include the phrase ‘In God We Trust.’

If the bill passes as is, the Department of Archives and History would be instructed to immediately develop a plan for the “prompt, dignified and respectful removal” of Mississippi’s current state flag, which has flown above the state since 1894. That removal must take place within 15 days of the passage of the bill. 

The commission to design the flag would be made up of nine members. Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and Governor Tate Reeves will each appoint three people to the commission. The bill dictates that the Governor’s appointments must include a representative from the Mississippi Economic Council, the Arts Council and the Department of Archives and History.

These appointments must be made by July 15th and meetings would begin shortly after. Public comments would be accepted by the commission.

The design of the flag would then be submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office by September 14th before it can be voted upon by Mississippians on November 3rd. If that design doesn’t receive a majority of the vote, a new design would be submitted during the 2021 legislative session.

Rep. Omeria Scott proposed an amendment to name the bill after Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill, who stated that he would no longer represent his home state until the flag was changed. The Columbus native’s statement followed actions taken by the SEC and the NCAA to prohibit postseason events from taking place in Mississippi. The amendment was tabled.

The bill will now be taken up by the Senate Rules Committee before it can be sent to the Senate floor.

Following the vote in the House, Speaker Gunn reflected on its importance in allowing Mississippi to move forward.

“The future has taken root in the present today,” he said.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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