North Mississippi lawmakers react to being part of vote to redesign state flag

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PANOLA COUNTY, Miss. — The Mississippi flag is headed for an overhaul.

After a weekend full of debate, lawmakers voted to remove the Confederate emblem from the state flag and redesign the flag.

“It was an honor to be there and to be able to cast that vote,” said Republican Sen. Nicole Akins Boyd, who represents Panola and Lafayette counties.

Sen. Akins Boyd said it was a moment of jubilation after she joined the “yes” votes.

“We have moved forward in the state in that we’re sending a message to the world and basically giving a new welcome mat to the state of Mississippi, that all are welcome here,” Sen. Akins Boyd said.

The vote in the Senate was 37 to 14. In the House, it was 91 to 23.

The bill also creates a committee to select a new flag design, which voters must first approve.

But Republican Rep. Jeff Hale from DeSoto County said the people should have voted this time. That’s why he voted “no” on the bill.

“It shouldn’t be left up to legislators,” Hale said. “In 2001, they allowed the people to vote for the flag, and it stayed, overwhelmingly, over 60%. The precedent was set, and now we come in and run through this. There has been a lot of emotions. There has been a lot of tempers.”

Now, Hale wants to make sure things are handled properly.

“The only thing I asked in our meeting was when the flag gets decommissioned, it is done with integrity and respect,” Hale said. “Maybe get some of the military and Honor Guard and do a little ceremony for it … It has been through a lot.”

The bill also says any new flag must include “In God We Trust.”

“I am excited about the message it sends to our citizens in Mississippi and the rest of the world,” Sen. Akins Boyd said.

Mississippi voters will get to decide on the new flag design in November.

Lawmakers said they are already getting design suggestions, including incorporating magnolias, which are the state flower.

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