Originally created 04/09/03

House votes to change state flag

ATLANTA - Georgia would get its second redesigned flag in two years, but the public would get to vote on keeping the design or scrapping it under a bill passed by the House late Tuesday night.

With midnight as the cutoff for the bill to pass and be sent to the Senate this year, opponents were hoping to stall any vote while supporters were pushing for a decision.

By a margin of 111-67, the House voted to fly the new flag, a new version of an old banner.

The bill, a compromise version of Gov. Sonny Perdue's plan, would immediately replace the blue banner approved by the Legislature in 2001 with a modified version of the state's pre-1956 flag.

A vote in March would be held to ask voters whether they wish to keep the new flag.

If they turn it down, a second vote would be held to let voters pick between the pre-1956 banner and the one adopted in 1956, with its controversial Confederate battle emblem.

The plan is significantly different from the one introduced on behalf of Mr. Perdue.

His representatives in the House praised the plan as a way to both keep Mr. Perdue's campaign promise and finally settle a bitter debate that has divided the state for decades.

"I believe it represents something good for Georgia," said Rep. Glenn Richardson, R-Dallas, Mr. Perdue's floor leader. "It will bring an end to the discussion, and we can all look up at the flag of the state of Georgia."

The compromise banner features red and white stripes and a blue field bearing the state seal, similar to the flag that flew over Georgia until 1956 and modeled on the "stars and bars" that was the first national flag of the Confederate States of America.

It bears the words "In God We Trust" on the white stripe and 13 stars around the seal. There were 13 states in the Confederacy, and Georgia was the last of the 13 original colonies.


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