NBC reports Mississippi lawmakers who want to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state’s flag appear to have enough votes in the state Legislature to make the change, a senior state lawmaker said Friday.
State Rep. Robert Johnson III, the Democratic leader of the state House of Representatives, told NBC News that all the needed votes “appear to be there.”
A vote on the measure is likely on Saturday.
Mississippi is the last state in the nation whose flag features the Confederate emblem.
“Supporters of a flag change worked through the night to secure the remaining votes necessary for a successful vote to change the state flag,” Johnson said. “The votes to make that change are there in the House and appear to be there in the Senate. There very well may be a first step taken today in the House by passing a rules suspension to take up a bill to remove the current state flag.”
Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican who has opposed changing the flag through the legislature, acknowledged Thursday in a Facebook post that vetoing such legislation would be “pointless.”
The governor has long said any action on changing the state flag should happen through a vote of the people. In 2001, Mississippi voters were given a chance to change the flag through a public referendum, and 64 percent chose not to.
The current flag was first adopted in 1894 and features red, white and blue stripes with the Confederate battle emblem in the corner. Proposals to change the flag have repeatedly come up in the statehouse, but have always died.
Mississippi’s state legislature has felt increasing pressure to change the flag as Confederate monuments are being removed around the country amid nationwide protests sparked by George Floyd’s death.
Among those taking a stance is retailing behemoth Walmart, which has announced it will “remove the Mississippi state flag from display in its current form from our stores,” Reuters reported.