Tupelo • A commission to propose a new state flag design will meet for the first time Wednesday morning, though Gov. Tate Reeves has not yet named the appointments to the commission he is required by law to make.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn have jointly called for a 10 a.m. Wednesday meeting of the commission that will select a new flag design to go before voters in November.

The commission’s membership includes Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill.

Under a state law that retired the state’s former flag and initiated the process to replace it, Hosemann, Gunn and Reeves must each make three appointments to the commission. The commission will select any design of its choosing as its recommendation provided that the new design does not include the Confederate battle emblem and does include the words, “In God We Trust.”

Voters will either accept or reject the proposed new design on November’s ballot, with no option provided to retain the former state flag, which was the last state flag in the country to incorporate the Confederate battle flag.

By state law, appointments to the commission were to be made by July 15. Hosemann and Gunn each announced their three selections by the deadline. Almost a week now since that deadline elapsed, Reeves has yet to publicly named any of his three appointments.

Of his three appointments, one must be a representative of the Mississippi Economic Council, one a representative of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and one a representative of the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Gunn and Hosemann faced no restrictions as to their selections to sit on the commission.

A spokesperson for Reeves said the governor has been preoccupied with the ongoing threat of COVID-19, which continues to widen its spread in the state.

“Governor Reeves’ top priority right now is ensuring the health and well-being of all Mississippians during this unprecedented pandemic, working around the clock with our state health experts to limit transmission. The Governor will announce his appointees once he’s had the opportunity to review the limited options from which he’s able to choose,” said Renae Eze.

The six named members thus far are as follows:

• Reuben Anderson, former state Supreme Court justice

• Sherri Carr Bevis, former secretary of state staffer, and educator

• Mary Graham, president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

• Robyn Tannehill, Oxford mayor

• TJ Taylor, policy director for Gunn

• J. Mack Varner, attorney

The legislation that retired the former state flag required Gunn and Hosemann to jointly call the first meeting of the commission that propose a new design. The commission will then elect a chairman. After the first meeting, the commission will have broad discretion to hold additional meetings or invite public comment.

The commission must propose a new flag design by Sept. 14. If voters in November reject the proposed design, the commission will go back to work selecting a new design for another referendum vote.


Twitter: @CalebBedillion

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