Pine Belt representatives on state flag debate

Pine Belt representatives on state flag debate
Flickr Creative Commons

MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - The debate over flying the Mississippi state flag continues at the capitol.

The state House passed a bill Wednesday saying Mississippi State University and The University of Southern Mississippi could not receive certain tax breaks unless they display the flag. All eight public schools in Mississippi have removed it because of the Confederate battle emblem.

According to the Associated Press, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith said Thursday the flag spat has caused "animosity," and he will kill the bill by not bringing it up for more debate.

The Jackson Free Press posted the State Flag Amendment Vote Count they obtained at the capitol.

Fourteen representatives voted for it:

  • Shane Barnett: District 86, Greene, Perry, Wayne counties
  • Larry Byrd: District 104, Forrest County
  • John Glen Corley, District 106, Lamar, Pearl River counties
  • Mark Formby, District 108, Pearl River
  • Chris Johnson: District 87, Forrest, Lamar counties
  • Timmy Ladner: District 93, Hancock, Pearl River, Stone counties
  • Vince Mangold, District 53, Franklin, Jefferson Davis, Lawrence, Lincoln, Pike counties
  • Ken Morgan: District 100, Lamar, Marion  counties
  • Bill Pigott: District 99, Lamar, Marion, Walthall counties
  • Donnie Scoggin: District 89, Jones County
  • William Shirley: District 84, Clarke, Jasper, Newton counties
  • Gary Staples: District 88, Jasper, Jones counties
  • Brad Touchstone: District 101, Lamar County
  • Mark K. Tullos: District 79, Jasper, Smith counties

Five voted against it:

  • Toby Barker: District 102, Forrest, Lamar counties
  • Bob Evans: District 91, Copiah, Covington, Jefferson Davis, Lawrence, Simpson counties
  • Roun S. McNeal: District 105, George, Greene, Perry counties
  • Omeria Scott: District 80, Clarke, Jasper, Jones counties
  • Percy W. Watson: District 103, Forrest County

Noah L. Sanford, representing District 90, Covington, Jefferson Davis, Simpson counties, did not vote.

Each of the state's eight public universities stopped flying the Mississippi flag in recent years amid controversy about it including the Confederate battle emblem.

The University of Southern Mississippi replaced the state flag with an American flag in October 2015, with President Rodney Bennett saying in a  statement then, "We have all chosen to work, study and live in a country in which debates like those around the state flag of Mississippi can take place, and ideas can be civilly expressed and advanced. While I love the state of Mississippi, there is passionate disagreement about the current state flag on our campuses and in our communities. I am looking forward to a time when this debate is resolved and USM raises a state flag that unites us."

WDAM 7 News reached out to Bennett Thursday for a statement regarding the Senate bill 2509. USM Chief Communications Officer Jim Coll released this statement on Dr. Bennett's behalf.

"The University does not intend to comment on the recent House bill amendment vote, as the legislative process is not yet resolved."

In a previous story with WDAM 7 News, Coll said the university has asked for millions of dollars in legislative support through state bond funding to pay for several campus renovation projects.

"USM has indicated facility needs related to the development of a $2.5 million academic enhancement center in Cook Library, as well as a $12 million restoration of Southern Hall, among other items," Coll said. "These projects are completed as state bond funding allows, or as the university identifies other revenue sources. Historically, state bond funds have supported these types of projects. For example, the $6.3 million renovation of College Hall was largely funded through state bonds."

This is a developing story. Stay with WDAM 7 for the latest updates from the capitol.