Sen. Hopson favors state flag change and lottery

Published 7:13 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2017

As the guest speaker at the weekly meeting of the Vicksburg Kiwanis Club Tuesday, Mississippi State Senator for District 23 Briggs Hopson discussed the recent legislative session as well as the ongoing discussions related to a Mississippi state lottery and the state flag.

Hopson said that he would be in favor of changing the state flag and cast a vote in favor of making the change when given the choice during a statewide vote in 2001.

Hopson also sharply condemned the hate groups that made national headlines last week following a rally in Charlottesville, Va., that resulted in the death of a counter protester.

“I clearly believe and I am not for and I condemn any of these groups that are hateful. I am surprised how anybody could defend a group that supports Nazism or fascism,” Hopson said. “It is remarkable to me. People fought for our country against these people who committed genocide and were racist.”

Although he is in favor of changing the flag, Hopson said that he does not expect it to come up for a vote in the state legislature.

“I don’t think it is going to come up in the legislature for two reasons,” Hopson said. “One is you have to get both chambers to pass it and the governor said he thinks it needs to go to the people. If it goes to the legislature or the people, I am not afraid to vote on it. I don’t know that it is going to come up for a legislative vote. It is probably going to go to the people.”

He added that if the legislature does decide to bring it up for a vote, they must make sure to proceed with caution and be sure they have the required votes to pass making the change because “Mississippi will take a beating if it comes up and doesn’t pass; a national beating.”

“We can count votes in the legislature,” Hopson said. “A lot of things that never come up in the legislature, it is because you don’t have the votes to pass it. You are crazy if you want to put something up like that if you don’t have the votes to pass it.”

Hopson said one of the reasons he is in favor of changing the flag is due to the potential economic consequences of continuing to use a flag that includes the Confederate emblem.

“I have industry tell me I am scared about producing a product where the rest of the country and the world are going to say are you supporting something that stands for slavery,” Hopson said. “Are you supporting something that stands for one race being ahead of the other?”

During his remarks at Kiwanis, Hopson also discussed the ongoing talks to bring a lottery to the state of Mississippi. He said that he believes the lottery will pass the legislature, but more discussion is needed on how the funds will be used.

“I am not really in favor of earmarking it in favor of one particular thing,” Hopson said. “I am a believer in not earmarking as much as possible any funds for anything in particular. Put it all into one pot and then decide what your needs are.”

Hopson said that as the vice-chairman of the appropriations committee, he has learned how hard it is to make sure each agency and part of the government is funded properly when portions of the money are earmarked to specific things.

“Over time, I have gotten where I think just put everything into the big pot and see what our needs are,” Hopson said. “I am probably not going to be in favor of earmarking it for one particular thing like roads and bridges.”

He added that he will make his decision on whether to vote for or against the lottery based on the expected impact to the areas he represents, namely the casino industry in Vicksburg.

“I wanted to see how that affected our local casinos,” Hopson said. “We’ve got investments. I am going to be a homer and if it protects my community, I am going to be for it and if it hurts my community, I am probably going to be against it.”

He said from what he has heard so far, there is not expected to be a negative impact on the casinos if a lottery passes the legislature.