June 27 (UPI) -- Mississippi's state senate voted 36-14 Saturday in favor of a resolution that would allow lawmakers to change the state flag.
The resolution, passed 85-34 in state house earlier in the day, gives the state legislature the necessary two-third majority to change the state flag and paves the way for lawmakers in both the house and the senate to pass a bill to remove the flag and adopt a new design.
Gov. Tate Reeves has said he would sign whatever flag bill the legislature passes.
Lawmakers in both legislative houses are expected to pass the flag-removal bill and begin the process of adopting a new one.
Mississippi is the last state in the country with a flag that still features a Confederate battle emblem, but the legislature began weighing the possibility of changing the flag again in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and weeks of sustained protests against racism and police brutality.
The current flag, adopted in 1894, features red, white and blue stripes with the Confederate battle emblem in the corner.
"This flag is beloved by some, reviled by many," said Sen. Briggs Hopson, R-Vicksburg, who also said the flag doesn't represent Mississippians and has cost the state economic opportunities. "I'm ready to rip the Band-Aid off."
Earlier this month the NCAA board of governors banned championship events from being held in states that still fly the Confederate flag, and Walmart announced it would no longer display the state flag at its Mississippi locations.
Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, argued that some see the American flag as a symbol of oppression and said the matter should be decided by a state referendum.
The state did refer the matter to voters in 2001, and 64 percent voted against changing the flag.