Changing the flag: What you need to know

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As you read this, you will probably feel like you have returned to school, but it’s important to understand the process behind the movement to change the flag.  It’s sort of like a basketball game at this point.  The ball is being passed around a lot, but no one has hit that winning shot – yet.

It appears lawmakers will return to the capitol Saturday to potentially address legislation to change the state flag.  Much is happening behind the scenes, so the situation is constantly changing.

Here are the nuts and bolts of the process:

The deadline to file new bills has passed, so before a bill to address the flag can be voted on, a resolution must be filed to suspend the rules.  This process begins in the House then moves to the Senate.  The resolution requires a vote of a two-thirds majority in both chambers, but at this moment, there is no clear understanding if that will actually happen.  Reports indicate the numbers are close on both sides, but until an actual vote is taken to suspend the rules, it is anyone’s guess.

If the two-thirds majority is achieved, debate on the actual bill can begin.  To pass the bill, a simple majority of the House and Senate would be required.

But what would the legislation do?  We don’t know.  It has not been made public.

There have been reports of a simple vote to remove the current flag, assemble a commission to study a potential replacement, and take it back up in January when the regular session convenes.

Most of what is occurring at this point is happening between lawmakers, so until legislative action is officially taken, there is not much to tell you.

The House and Senate have both adjourned until 10 a.m. Saturday.

The support for a new state flag has been gaining momentum like a train.  High-profile business leaders, athletes, coaches from all of Mississippi’s universities, the state’s colleges and community colleges, and even native Mississippian and country music superstar Faith Hill, have all spoken publicly in support of changing the flag.  The rallying cry for change has been shouted for all to hear, but when will that come?

There’s always tomorrow…

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