Should the Utah flag be redesigned? Bill to create commission to review possibilities passes House

Stock image, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah lawmakers are considering forming a commission to come up with new designs for a state flag that hasn’t been changed in more than 120 years.

The Utah House voted 46-26 on Friday in favor of State Flag Review Commission, designated as HB 219, a bill that would create a commission to review and recommend designs for a new state flag. All Southern Utah representatives voted in favor of the bill with the exception of Reps. Travis Seegmiller and Brad Last. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration.

The blue state flag has featured the same style with slight variations since it was first used in 1896. The flag includes a mix of state and national symbols, including a bald eagle, the U.S. flag and a beehive on a blue backdrop.

The sponsor of HB 219, Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, said in a Salt Lake Tribune report that he came up with the idea to introduce the bill after speaking with a constituent who advocated for a new flag.

If the measure does pass, an 11-member panel would be assembled to review submissions and report back to lawmakers by November.

“We would solicit public input,” Handy said during floor debate on Friday. “School children are already contacting us, and they’re excited to participate.”

Once the new designs are chosen and submitted, it would be up to a future Legislature to make the final decision for a new flag.

Handy mentioned that other states wear flags on their hats and t-shirts, while that is not often seen in Utah.

“My son was in Texas a weekend ago. I said, ‘Do you see the state flag down there?’ And he says ‘Yeah, everywhere. T-shirts, mugs, hats.’ You know, you name it. The state flag of Texas is everywhere.”

But when he said that a new flag would help bring publicity outside of formal settings, there was some pushback.

Rep. Scot Chew, a Republican from Jensen, said he’s proud of the flag and scoffed at the notion from flag experts that children should be able to draw a flag from memory.

“Does that mean someone 3 years old or 17 years old?” Chew said.

Republican Rep. Brady Brammer said that an old college acquaintance used to hang it in a shared space.

“I’m not in favor of revisiting our state flag at this time,” he said.

Seegmiller said he loved the current state flag, but that he wasn’t opposed to studying to see if a new flag is in order. However, he added that he wondered about the momentum.

“Would you say this bill would hurl us down the path of getting a new flag?” he asked. “Or would  you think of it more as … just creating the possibility?”

Handy reiterated that it was the latter.

“This started as a flag review to commission to ask the question, ‘Is this something we should consider?'” he said. “I don’t think we should be afraid of discussing things.”

Read more: See all St. George News reports and opinions on Utah Legislature 2019 issues

Resources

Southern Utah Reps. Travis Seegmiller, Bradley Last, V. Lowry Snow, Walt Brooks, Rex Shipp, Merrill Nelson and Phil Lyman | Listing of all members of the House of Representatives.

Written by The Associated Press.

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