Mississippi State Flag: Next steps

House Bill 1796 changes the state flag, but what happens now?

Reading through a piece of legislation can be cumbersome, so I thought I would attempt to break it down and give you somewhat of a simplified description of what happens from this point.

  • A commission will be established to redesign the flag. That commission will consist of 9 individuals. Three of which will be appointed by the Governor, three will be appointed by the Speaker of the House, and three will be appointed by the Lt. Governor. The appointments must be made no later than July 15th.
  • The commission must include a representative of the Mississippi Economic Council, a representative from the Mississippi Arts Commission and a representative from the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
  • Members of the commission will receive no compensation for their service but may receive reimbursement for mileage and actual expenses to the extent the funds are available for that purpose.

Among other things, the commission will basically provide the following functions:

  1. Oversee the design of a new state flag
  2. Public meetings could be held
  3. Receive public comments
  4. Collect, examine, and consider all information helpful for the recommendation of a new state flag
  5. Consult with experts, organizations, and others to help make the recommendation
  • According to the legislation, the new design cannot include the Confederate Battle Flag, and must include the words “In God We Trust”.
  • A statewide special election to vote on the new design will be held Tuesday, November 3, 2020, on the same day of the general election.
  • The question on the ballot will state: “Please vote YES or NO on whether the following design shall be the official Mississippi State Flag”
  • The Secretary of State shall include a color picture or drawing of the new design on all ballots.  The cost incurred in providing the ballots that are required to include a color picture or drawing of the new design shall be borne by the State of Mississippi, and the Legislature shall appropriate the funds necessary for this purpose.
  • Upon the effective date of this act, the Department of Archives and History shall immediately develop a plan for the prompt, dignified, and respectful removal of the former state flag, and the removal shall take place not later than 15 days from the effective date.
  • As noted in the legislation, if a majority of the qualified electors vote for the new design, the Legislature shall enact into law the new design as the official Mississippi state flag.
  • If a majority of qualified electors vote against the new design, the commission will reconvene to recommend another new design to the Legislature in the 2021 regular session.

The legislation passed the House and Senate on Sunday and now requires the signature of the Governor before it becomes law.  Click here to read HB 1796 in its entirety.