Palmetto Sunrise: Legislature to tackle removal of Confederate battle flag

A cloth covers the desk of fallen Sen. Clementa Pinckney, D-Ridgeland, in the state Senate’s chambers. (Cynthia Roldan/Staff)

COLUMBIA — Members in both chambers of the state’s General Assembly return to the capital today after one of their own and eight churchgoers were killed by a gunman last week.

They are expected to tackle how to address the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds, a day after Gov. Nikki Haley called on its removal while flanked by more than two dozen national, state and local lawmakers.

How they’re going to remove the flag remained unclear as of Monday afternoon. House Minority Leader Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, said there are multiple ways. But first, two-thirds of each chamber have to vote to amend the resolution that called them back to into special session to have it include the battle flag’s removal as one of the issues they must discuss.

After that, a bill can be filed that tackles the issue, Rutherford said. The House would likely vote on a bill the week of July 6, after the bill makes it through committees.

“Because we were scheduled to come back tomorrow, it’s something that we cannot ignore,” Rutherford said. “While we respect the victims, the rights of the victims and the families, we can’t just walk away from the legislative calendar. Otherwise we’d miss the opportunity to do anything.”

There is a faster way. After the resolution is amended, the House can pull the bill once it’s filled directly to the floor. But every lawmaker in the chamber has to agree with that move, which is unlikely, Rutherford said.

Related:

Survey finds divide, silence on Confederate flag issue in Legislature (The Post and Courier)

Graphic on where members stand on the issue (The Post and Courier)

Sen. Lee Bright will fight the ‘Stalinist purge’ of the Confederate flag (The Herald-Journal)

Charleston-area politicians calls for lowering of battle flag (The Post and Courier)

The Obamas, vice president to attend Pinckney’s funeral (The Post and Courier)

Thousands participating in ‘Blue and White Friday’ rally (The State)

Mississippi House Speaker: Confederate part of state flag ‘needs to be removed’ (The Clarion-Ledger)

In other news:

Jasper County left without its local senator (Morris News Service)

Gay-rights objections torpedo past efforts to enact hate-crime law (The Post and Courier)

Lawmakers returning to vote on budget after negotiators hammer out a deal (The Post and Courier)

House speaker expects budget, key bills to pass (Aiken Standard)

Rock Hill man threatened to kill deputy, called Charleston shooter ‘God’ (The Herald)