This was a busy week in your state government. On Tuesday your capitol was visited by citizens who support our state flag and I dropped my first bill, one that requires state funded universities to fly the state flag. The House was also faced with a difficult vote on the contested election for representative of District 79.
Many have asked for my view of the "flag issue". Darwin, an Olive Branch resident, sent me an email asking me to explain why I support a flag that offends some people. I want to thank Darwin again for posing the question and giving me an opportunity to express my position. Darwin is an example of what makes our state and country great, he stated his opinion, asked for mine and did not threaten or accuse anyone.
As a member of the House and an elected official I believe when the people of Mississippi speak I should uphold their voice and their vote. In 2001 the flag was decided by a majority of citizens, it is my responsibility to uphold that vote of the people of this state. I have no right nor authority to decide I simply don't like their decision. I will not support any legislation that attempts to ignore that decision. My proposed legislation simply states that a state funded university must fly the state flag. I believe an employee of the people of Mississippi has no right to ignore his employers decision simply because he does not like the decision they made.
If enough people in this state want our flag changed then there is a process that allows them to gather signatures and the people of Mississippi can vote again on what flag they want. If the people decide to change the flag then I will support that flag.
As a private citizen of this state I prefer to keep our current flag. I understand that there were acts committed under that flag of which we are not proud, but no state, nation, or group of people are perfect, there are always acts, decisions, and practices that were wrong or even shameful. But for every wrong act committed under our state flag I can find you an act of heroism, justice, and mercy.
The House was faced with a decision this week on the contested election in District 79. This is a vote that I wish I did not have to make, it was a difficult decision that affects this state, the lives of two good men and how district 79 is represented in our state government. By Mississippi law the House of Representatives was tasked with making the final decision on this election and to do so Speaker Gunn appointed a committee to hear testimony, gather facts, and make a recommendation to the House. After completing their research the committee made their recommendation on Wednesday.
I voted to seat Mark Tullos, the challenger, as the representative for District 79. I am convinced, after listening to testimony during the hearings and the explaination of the committee's findings that my vote was correct and upheld by the law. The majority of the House followed the recommendation of the committee and Mark Tullos will be sworn in sometime next week.
Contrary to the accusations made by a freshman legislator from Lafayette County, I saw no threats or promises made by leadership demanding anyone vote a certain way. Actually my experience was that Speaker Gunn went out of his way to tell everyone to vote their conscience. The only statement I heard him make in regards to the vote was one I've heard him make many times before, "No vote is worth your integrity".
Now that this difficult vote is behind us, next week we will get committee assignments and we get to work.
Keep up with what is happening in your capitol daily at www.legislature.ms.gov