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Duvall surprised at level of attention his Ole Miss bill is getting

In the 2009 legislative session, Rep. Mark Duvall, D-Mantachie, was one of two authors of a bill that would have prohibited the use of automated cameras on streets and highways to catch folks speeding, running stop signs or red lights or any other illegal traffic shenanigans. The bill eventually gained Gov. Haley Barbour’s approval and the use of any kind of electronic recording equipment to police traffic is now illegal in Mississippi.

Duvall, who’s in his first term, got a lot of blowback on that issue, but nothing like he’s getting now on his bill that would mandate the Ole Miss mascot be Colonel Rebel, the sports teams’ nickname be Rebels, and that the band play “Dixie.”

Magnolia Marketplace just wrapped up a 15-minute phone conversation with Duvall. We’ll get to what he said in just a second, but first a little background on Duvall:

After graduating from Mantachie High School, he attended Itawamba Community College with the hopes of majoring in pharmacy at Ole Miss. Before he finished at ICC, he decided he wanted to major in engineering, so Mississippi State made the most sense. He said he pulls for Ole Miss except when the Rebels play the Bulldogs.

“And then I’m a Bulldog fan,” he said.

So with that in mind, why did Duvall introduce this bill?

“Out of concern that was expressed to me from some of the folks in my district because of the mascot change,” he said. “They didn’t feel they were getting their point across to the athletic department and the administration, so I said I’d do whatever I could to help that happen. Filing this bill is the only way I could do that.”

House Bill 1106 has been referred to the Universities and Colleges Committee. Duvall realizes it has virtually no shot of making it out to the House floor. Like the traffic camera bill two years ago, Duvall said it’s possible the mascot/Dixie legislation could be attached to an appropriations bill. “But that would all depend on the mood of the House,” he said. Duvall added that he has not received any direct feedback from Ole Miss brass.

He’s received plenty from everybody else.

“I really didn’t think it would get this much coverage,” he said. “My email inbox is flooded. My cell phone won’t stop ringing. I’m pretty sure my secretary is ready for this to be over, but it’s all part of the process.”

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