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Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves on Tuesday signed a bill that will remove the state flag that featured the confederate battle emblem. The bill's passage comes after weeks of renewed backlash toward the flag, which many have decried as a symbol of racism and white supremacy.

Mississippi's legislature voted on Sunday to remove the flag, which was the last in the country to display the battle emblem.

The bill passed 91-23 in the House and 37-14 in the Senate.

Mississippi residents will head to the polls in November to choose a new state flag. The old flag design will not be an option, per the legislation. 

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In 2001, voters chose to keep the flag by a margin of nearly two to one in a statewide referendum. But in the wake of George Floyd's death and widespread protests against racial inequality, opposition to the flag grew stronger. The Southeastern Conference threatened to pull championship events from the state if it didn't change its flag, and Walmart stopped displaying it in the state's stores. 

As of Thursday, 55% of the state's residents supported changing the flag, according to polling cited by the state's chamber of commerce. 

The flag is just one of many Confederate symbols that have been removed in recent weeks. Virginia's governor announced his plans to take down a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, for example, and NASCAR said it will prohibit displaying the flag during races and events. 

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The passage of the bill removing the battle emblem was celebrated by activists who had been pushing for change. 

"My ancestors were beaten and traumatized, and it was under that flag," 22-year-old Jarrius Adams said Sunday. "There are a lot of moments when I'm not proud to be from Mississippi, but this is definitely a moment that I'm extremely proud to be from Mississippi."

Kate Smith contributed reporting. 

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Gov. Wolf Signs Senate Bill 637, Easing Restrictions For Pennsylvanians With Criminal Records To Reenter The Workforce

HARRISBURG (KDKA) — Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 637 on Wednesday, aimed at assisting people with criminal records to reenter the workforce in Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania must be a place where hardworking people can put their skills to work,” said Gov. Wolf. “Arbitrarily denying someone a job license because of outdated rules against criminal records is wrong. This new bipartisan law is a commonsense way to allow people to pursue the American dream and build a better life in Pennsylvania. It’s good for skilled workers, their employers and the economy for all of us.”

The bill, now signed into law, removes some job licensing barriers to Pennsylvania workers with a criminal record. According to the Wolf administration, one in five Pennsylvanians needs an occupational license to work.

As of Wednesday, boards and commissions are not allowed to deny someone employment based on their criminal history unless their prior offenses are related to that particular line of work. Additionally, if boards and commissions do have stipulations about granting a job license to someone based on certain prior criminal offenses, that information will have to be publically available. Boards are also asked to consider other factors of the applicant before deciding based on their criminal record and are requested to provide a preliminary decision to applicants so that applicants can present evidence to support their case for a license. Juvenile records or convictions expunged by the Clean Slate Law may not be considered by boards and commissions’ decisions to grant an occupational license.

However, sexual offenders will still not be permitted to work as healthcare providers.

“The Pennsylvania Department of State has been a vocal advocate for professional licensing standards that protect the health and safety of Pennsylvanians and are free of unnecessary or unclear requirements,” said Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar. “We believe this new law is a step forward toward that goal. We applaud the legislature and Governor Wolf for making this much-needed reform in the commonwealth’s licensing laws.”

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