Lawmakers react to SEC and NCAA statements on Mississippi state flag

Updated: Jun. 19, 2020 at 8:36 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The state flag was a hot button issue before the sports world started weighing in.

But we asked lawmakers if they think those voices will carry weight in decision making. Some say they hope it will.

“There’s been a lot of efforts to change the flag over a lot of years, but I’ve never seen the moment quite like this ever in the history of the state,” said Sen. John Horhn.

“Obviously it’s affecting industry,” noted Sen. Sollie Norwood. “It’s affecting our colleges and universities. It’s really unfair to our student athletes to go on to excel in their respective sports and be able to compete in their home state.”

There are other lawmakers who say they won’t be swayed.

“I have a problem with outside groups coming in and trying to exert economic pressure or what I would consider a shakedown,” described Sen. Angela Hill.

“We had a referendum in 2001,” explained Sen. Chris McDaniel. “The people retained the issue for themselves for us now to change it without their approval tells them their hard work, their opinions don’t matter.”

Speaker of the House Philip Gunn is standing by his position that the flag needs to change.

“This is an issue for us,” said Gunn. “This is a reflection upon who we are as a people. It’s a reflection upon the image that we bare across the country.”

Of course to get something passed at the Captiol, the votes have to be there. Gunn says they’re having the conversations about whether they’ve got the support and he thinks things like the NCAA statement are impacting the way some members are viewing the options.

“I’m beginning to hear people say, ‘Well, this is beginning to hurt us now,‘” Gunn explained. “We need to consider going a different way.”

It would take a 2/3 vote by both chambers to take up legislation to change the flag this session since the deadlines have passed.

“That’s 81 in my chamber,” noted Gunn. “So, that’s putting together a big coalition of people. So it takes a while to come to agreement on something like that.”

There is a Senate resolution that’s been filed but it has to come out of the Constitution Committee before that 2/3 vote can be attempted. That hasn’t happened yet.

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