JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi’s 2021 legislative session got underway Tuesday at noon. And wrapping up what they started last year is at the top of the agenda.
It’s been just more than six months since the legislature voted to get rid of the confederate emblem on Mississippi’s state flag and start the process of designing and adopting a new flag.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t say the mood is a little bit lighter today,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White from the House floor. “The air is not quite as hanging as thick and heavy as it was when I was before you back in June.”
The Mississippi House started the steps for finalizing the state flag as their first order of business in the 2021 session.
”What’s affirming to me is the vote that occurred last November on November 3,” said Speaker Philip Gunn. “Almost 75 percent of the people of the state voiced their support for doing this. And so today, we are simply ratifying and putting in the law what the people of the state said that they wanted.”
And there was no floor debate. It passed by a vote of 119-1.
“The overwhelming way that the flag passed on the ballot… it says a lot about Mississippi and the flag sort of ushers in a season, I feel, of hope,” added Rep. Robert Johnson.
The Senate Rules committee also passed the bill and it’s expected to come before the full Senate Wednesday.
“I’m just reminded of just the chorus of support in and outside of the state of Mississippi for Mississippi to do the right thing,” explained Senate Minority Leader Derrick Simmons.
The last step would be the Governor’s desk to either approve or veto the bill. These pressing matters are all the Lt. Governor wants to take up before delaying due to COVID.
“We have 174 coming here working with another 200 people with a number of visitors,” described Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann. “And the opportunity for spreading the coronavirus is high. Look what happened to us in July the last time.”
Speaker Philip Gunn, though, is not wanting to change the schedule.
“If the rest of the world is working, we need to work too,” said Gunn. “So, we’re going to continue to push forward.”
If they stay the course on the schedule with the flag votes as expected...they are tentatively planning for a ceremony to put up the new flag Thursday at the State Capitol.