Bill passes to establish commemorative state flag, task force for new Utah state flag

Local News

Photo courtesy of The Organization for a New Utah Flag

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Utah State Legislature has passed a bill the establishes a commemorative state flag and creates the State Flag Task Force.

Senate Bill 48 passed in the House and Concurrence in the Senate on Thursday, which means it will now head to Governor Spencer Cox’s desk. The bill was sponsored by Senator Daniel McCay and Representative Stephen Handy.

SB48 does not actually call for a new flag, but creates a task force to look into the possibility of one.

In late December, Rep. Handy spoke with ABC4 about the bill, saying he was approached by constituents three years ago regarding concerns about the flag’s appearance.

“I’m a native Utahn, and I never thought about the state flag. It’s just there,” Rep. Handy explained. “But as they started pointing out its deficiencies and kind of its old look, I thought this is pretty interesting. Businesses all the time rebrand, so why not have the state flag rebranded?”

Utah’s current state flag features the state seal on a blue background surrounded by a gold circle. The seal itself includes an eagle perched above a beehive and Utah’s motto: Industry. The beehive is surrounded by Utah’s state flower, the Sego Lily.

“Utah’s flag fails in all regards. It’s old, it’s stodgy. So we ought to retire it to a museum as the historic flag,” Rep. Handy said. “I think we could do a lot better – something more representative of the vibrancy and diversity and the culture of the state of Utah.”

This is the third year that Rep. Handy has proposed the bill, which establishes a commemorative state flag to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Utah’s statehood in 2021.

The commemorative flag, seen in these photos from The Organization for a New Utah Flag, may be flown directly under the current state flag throughout the year if the bill is signed.

The Organization “has declared victory” after SB48 passed in the Legislature.

“When we began this movement in 2017, we knew it was a cause worth fighting for,” said the Organization’s Chair, Richard Martin. “To see so many supporters rally around our design and for it to now become a reality is gratifying beyond words. We can’t wait to see Utahn’s celebrating their great state and its history by proudly flying it high throughout our 125th anniversary of 2021.” 

According to the Organization:

The commemorative flag has seven points of symbolism within the design: A gold beehive, representing Utah as the Beehive State and the state’s motto of “Industry.” A white star below the beehive represents Utah’s statehood and joining of the Union in 1896. The triangular saltire symbolizes Utah’s moniker as the “Crossroads of the West” and the joining of the Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Point. 

The five sections of the flag (North, South, East, West and Center) represents the five native tribes of Utah; the Ute, Paiute, Navajo, Shoshone and Goshute peoples.

The blue, known as “Liberty Blue,” symbolizes Utah’s tradition and the Great Salt Lake. The white, known as “Mountain White,” represents the snow capped Rocky Mountains and the “Greatest Snow on Earth.” Finally, the red, known as “Utah Red,” represents the world famous red rocks and national parks of Southern Utah. 

The commemorative flags can be purchased at newutahflag.org.

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