GOP House speaker says Confederate symbol on Mississippi flag 'needs to be removed'

In 2001, Mississippi voters overwhelmingly approved their current state flag with its Confederate battle emblem. And then Charleston happened – and now a top Republican in the Mississippi legislature is ready to join a Democratic effort to change it. From the Associated Press:

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The Montgomery Advertiser's Brian Lyman reminds us that Alabama has a set-up similar that of South Carolina -- an invitation to more scrutiny:

Although the Confederate flag no longer flies over the Alabama State Capitol, it remains on the grounds with other memorials to the Confederacy. Since 1994, four flags used by the Confederacy have flown at the Alabama Confederate Memorial, an 88-foot sculpture dedicated in 1898.

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Georgia lawmakers, after much debate in 2014, voted to let churches "opt in" to a sweeping new gun bill that allowed permit-holders to carry their firearms into a range of new places.

Gov. Nathan Deal signaled Monday that he does not want to revisit that controversial topic in the wake of the Charleston shooting by a white supremacist who left nine worshippers dead in a historic black church.

Deal was asked by a WJBF reporter in Augusta if the tragedy would reignite the debate and make people "feel like they have to bring a gun to church."

"I would hope not," Deal told the station, adding: “I think we always have to remember that almost without exception, the bad examples of tragedies that occur with the use of weapons are those who have violated the law."

Remember, of course, that next year brings election-year politicking. And the gun rights lobby was unusually quiet this past session.

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Georgia Democrats have seized on a favorite target: Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens. The Republican was pummeled in 2013 for vowing to do everything he could to obstruct the Affordable Care Act -- though he later retreated from that vow.

Now the party is highlighting a report from our AJC colleagues James Salzer and Carrie Teegardin that found Georgia had the highest auto insurance rate hikes in the nation in 2014.

“Who is Ralph Hudgens looking out for? Certainly not people who pay insurance premiums. We always thought that the reason to have an insurance commissioner was to protect working people from insurance companies," said Michael Smith, the party's spokesman. "He should be the insurance commissioner, not the commissioner for insurance companies."

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Francys Johnson, the head of the Georgia NAACP, had a reply for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, after the mayor's comments that "professional organizations" -- not the New Georgia Project -- were needed to make Georgia competitive in 2016.

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The U.S. Senate takes up President Barack Obama's trade agenda at 11 a.m. today, with the 60-vote requirement the last big hurdle for Trade Promotion Authority to negotiate a massive new trade deal.

Here's the New York Times' Jonathan Weisman on the convoluted process:

If supporters can muster the 60 votes they need, final passage on Wednesday of so-called trade promotion authority is all but assured, putting intense pressure on House Democrats. Earlier this month, when the trade-negotiating legislation was attached to the worker assistance provision, House Democrats brought down the worker aid piece, knowing that was the easiest way to derail the entire trade package.

But Republican leaders, with the White House’s support, have found a parliamentary way to corner the Democrats: separating the two pieces of the bill. Sixty votes in the Senate and a simple majority in the House can put legislation on the president’s desk to give him the power to complete the landmark 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, knowing Congress cannot amend or filibuster the final accord.

The Senate would then follow on Wednesday with legislation that would attach assistance for dislocated workers to a broadly popular bill that would extend a longstanding trade agreement with Africa. That would go to the House on Friday, and this time, if Democrats brought it down, they would effectively kill a worker education and retraining program that they created and nurtured, but would still watch Mr. Obama sign

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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