- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2003

ATLANTA (AP) The Georgia Senate voted yesterday to give the state its third flag in just more than two years but not before fixing typos in the bill, which may mean the new banner won't pass the House this session.
The Senate approved a temporary flag that could become permanent depending on the outcome of a referendum next year. But the Senate also fixed mistakes in the bill, which would have made the flag a foot longer than other state flags.
With one legislative day remaining, the changes mean the flag bill must return to the House, where black lawmakers pledge to filibuster the measure, which would kill it for this session.
"It's going to die in the House. This is a victory," said Democratic Sen. Nadine Thomas. Black senators, who make up about a fifth of the chamber, loudly cheered when the typo amendment passed.
In 2001, Georgia's black lawmakers, backed by the state's business lobbies, led a movement to change the 1956-issue state flag that was dominated by a large Confederate emblem. The governor at the time, Democrat Roy Barnes, pushed a new flag through the Legislature in less than a week with no public hearings, creating a backlash that figured in his defeat last year by Republican Sonny Perdue.
The proposed flag would feature the state seal on a blue field in the top left corner, with three red-and-white stripes and the words "In God We Trust" to the right. It was designed by a Republican and echoes an old Confederate banner, but it does not include the more familiar rebel X.
Even if the new flag clears the House and is adopted, it must be approved by voters in March. If it fails, the state would hold another referendum with two choices: an early Georgia flag or the 1956-issue state flag.
Mr. Perdue became Georgia's first Republican governor in 130 years in part because he promised a vote on the flag.
"This will never be over until the people of Georgia decide for themselves," Sen. Dan Lee, a Republican and one of Mr. Perdue's floor leaders, said yesterday.
Sen. Charlie Tanksley, the lone Republican who opposes the bill, sobbed at the lectern.
"I can't for the life of me understand why so much promise and prosperity that is this state … has to be thrown away to unresolvable arguments about the past," he said.


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