June 25, 2015 – Sen. Shane Massey’s statement on the Confederate Flag, disseminated through Facebook and Twitter late Tuesday (June 23) afternoon, set many to wondering how the whole delegation that represents Edgefield County, and some of the surrounding areas, were positioning themselves on the Confederate Flag that flies on the Confederate monument on the State Capitol’s grounds. The three members of the delegation are: Sen. Shane Massey, Rep. Bill Hixon and Rep. Bill Clyburn.
Sen. Massey’s statement included these remarks (the full statement): “. . . But whatever honorable meaning the battle flag may have to some, it is clear that the flag itself has been hijacked and is too often misappropriated by those who seek to spread hate, terror, and violence. A significant portion of our state sees the flag as a banner of hate and an expression that the majority devalues their place in society. I find that unacceptable. And for that reason, I believe the time has come to bring down the flag . . .” These words put Sen. Massey into the list of State Senators that, it is understood, are being categorized in the Charleston Post and Courier Poll as being for or against the flag being brought down.
Rep. Bill Hixon gave an interview to The Advertiser on Wednesday (June 24) evening, giving the statement that he “does not know what the bill [about the flag] will say” and that he does not wish to commit until he does know. “I am undecided, no ‘yes,’ no ‘no.’” He was helpful in giving a step by step of just what is going to happen, according to the usual rules of legislation, in the House of Representatives. “As for the Senate, there will be no committee debate; it will go straight to the floor.” When it comes to how the House will handle it, he noted that the bill will be sent to Judiciary (Chairman Delany), it will be assigned to a sub-committee, there will be hearings, then the committee can vote it out to the floor.
This process of hearings, which will include public input, is one that he feels will be heavy with responses from citizens, and he said they are looking for a place to have it to accommodate those who appear at the hearings.
Ultimately Hixon says the bill could include issues that may attach themselves to the flag issue (one being a monument – reflecting a time in Reconstruction — in North Augusta that is receiving suggestions of being removed), and not knowing what the bill will look like, he is refraining from making a commitment.
Rep. Hixon spoke of the magnitude of responses he has seen to this issue of the Confederate Flag. “I have never gotten so many emails before on any issue.” And he noted that these were not sent automatically from groups, but rather individuals pouring their hearts out over the event in Charleston and the Confederate Flag’s part in the issue, both for and against. He noted that there are more for removing the flag than against.
Several phone calls were made to reach Rep. Bill Clyburn, the third member of the Edgefield County Delegation, but he could not be reached last Wednesday. He has been in “lockdown,” as they call it, serving on the Budget Conference Committee to bring some agreement between the Senate and House on the Budget, and spoke with this newspaper gladly on Tuesday of this week. He noted that the Governor had called him on Sunday before last to say she wanted the Confederate flag down and said she would be having a press conference. He said he attended and stood with her in support of her wish. “I am supportive of bringing the flag down and I think it is time.” He also noted that he respects the feelings of those who have beliefs different from his, and that “they can fly the flag on their own property,” but he sees it differently for the state property.
Updated to include statement from Rep. Bill Clyburn.