On Sunday afternoon, the Mississippi Legislature approved a bill to retire the current state flag and establish a commission that will design a new flag option and present it to voters in November.
House Bill 1796 bill was written by Philip Gunn, speaker of the state House of Representatives, and legislators in that house voted 91-23 to approve it. The state Senate approved the bill 37-14, and it now heads to the desk of Gov. Tate Reeves for approval.
Reeves said Saturday he would sign any flag-related bill sent to him by legislators.
Under the terms of the bill, the Confederate-based state flag, which was adopted in February 1894, will be removed and a nine-person commission will be created to design a new option.
That option must be presented by Sept. 14, and voters will have to approve the design at the ballot box on Nov. 3.
The bill gives the state Department of Archives and History up to 15 days from the date of the governor's signature to remove the current flag.
The commission's new design must not include the Confederate battle flag but should include the words “In God We Trust.” If voters reject the design, the commission will continue its existence and will present another design option for the flag during the 2021 legislative session.
The governor, lieutenant governor and Gunn will appoint three people each to the commission, and the governor’s appointees must include someone from the Mississippi Economic Council, the Mississippi Arts Commission, and Archives and History.
There are currently 12 legislators representing Forrest and Lamar counties in the state Legislature, and below is a breakdown of their votes on the bill.
Voting in support of the bill:
Sen. Juan Barnett, District 34 (Forrest, Jasper and Jones), Democrat.
Sen. Chris Johnson, District 45 (Forrest and Perry), Republican.
Sen. John Polk, District 44 (Lamar and Pearl River), Republican.
Rep. Larry Byrd, District 104 (Forrest), Republican.
Rep. Kent McCarty, District 101 (Lamar), Republican.
Rep. Missy Warren McGee, District 102 (Forrest and Lamar), Republican.
Rep. Jansen T. Owen, District 106 (Pearl River and Lamar), Republican.
Rep. Percy W. Watson, District 103 (Forrest), Democrat.
Voting in opposition of the bill:
Sen. Joey Fillingane, District 41 (Covington, Forrest, Jefferson Davis, Lamar and Smith), Republican.
Sen. Chris McDaniel, District 42 (Forrest and Jones), Republican.
Rep. Ken Morgan, District 100 (Lamar and Marion), Republican.
Rep. Bill Pigott, District 99 (Lamar, Marion and Walthall), Republican.