State flag commission to meet with or without Gov. Tate Reeves’ appointees

Print Share on LinkedIn More

Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today

House speaker Philip Gunn, from left, and Gov. Tate Reeves listen as Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann speaks at the start of Gov. Tate Reeves’ COVID-19 press conference at the State of Mississippi Woolfolk Building in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, May 7, 2020.

The commission tasked with recommending a new state flag for voters to decide on during the Nov. 3 election will hold its first meeting Wednesday, with or without Gov. Tate Reeves’ appointees to the panel.

Lawmakers tasked Reeves, House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann with appointing three members each to the nine-member commission that will decide the new design. Gunn and Hosemann met the July 15 deadline to announce the appointees, but Reeves still has not announced his picks.

On Tuesday, Gunn and Hosemann announced that their six appointees to the commission will meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday at the Two Mississippi Museums. It is not clear whether Reeves’ appointees will be announced by then and at the meeting.

The law mandates that the Legislature’s two presiding officers call the first meeting.

In late June, lawmakers passed the historic legislation to remove the 126-year-old state flag – the last in the nation to display the Confederate battle cross in its design.

On Monday during a news conference held to provide an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, Reeves, who signed into law the legislation to change the flag, said he had selected two of three appointees, but he has not made those choices public.

He said the pandemic was consuming much of his time.

“I will get to that as soon as we possibly can,” Reeves said.

The law mandates that Reeves appoints one member each from the Mississippi Economic Council, the state Department of Archives and History and the Mississippi Arts Commission.

There were no restraints on the appointees of Gunn and Hosemann, who announced their selections last week, and Reeves has highlighted that restriction in recent days.

The commission has a limited amount of time to complete its work.

It must select a design by Sept. 14, but in reality it might need to have its work completed earlier to ensure the design can be printed on the election ballot. That design will be placed before voters in the November election for an up or down vote. If the voters reject the proposal, the commission will go back to work to develop a new design to be on the ballot in 2021.

The law mandates that the design cannot include the Confederate battle emblem, but it must include the language “In God We Trust.”

The Department of Archives and History already have announced it is accepting submissions from the public. The deadline to make a submission is Aug. 13.