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Davis Journal

New state flag design announced, moves to legislature

Dec 01, 2022 10:52AM ● By Becky Ginos

SALT LAKE CITY—There’s been a lot of wrangling and heated debate over changing the state’s flag but after four years one design has landed at the top. The Utah State Flag Task Force voted on the final design Nov. 10. Now it will go to lawmakers during the 2023 Legislative Session to decide whether to adopt it or reject it.

“This has been a major process,” said Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton who ran the bill originally. “I hope it will move forward and we adopt it as a state.”

In the More Than a Flag initiative, Utahns were invited to submit their ideas for possible designs. Last month they announced the top 20 and now it has been whittled down to one.

The current flag is not going away, he said. “It’s the Governor’s civic flag and it will fly over state buildings. If you have a flag, fly it.”

People ask “why change the flag?” said Handy. “They say ‘I like the current flag.’ I asked ‘do you fly it?’ They say ‘no I don’t.’’’

Handy said a few years ago he was approached about changing the flag. “They were young guys who thought it was just there, it’s bad. I started to do some research to talk about it. I had no idea it would take four years.”

Most of the push back is from older people, he said. “Utah is one of the youngest states. The rising generation does not relate to the current flag. They have no respect or pride. We wanted to use an updated symbol to create synergy and pride in the state.”

There’s no harm in it, Handy said. “When I go to Disneyland there’s a Utah Jazz flag, U of U and BYU flags. Our current state flags are not conducive to representing our state. What are we so afraid of? The Jazz went through a rebranding. Why can’t a state rebrand?”

Other states have updated their flags, he said. “Utah is one of the first states making a change that has not been forced to (offensive, etc.)”

The other important thing is it’s absolutely the first time people have had input, said Handy. “Before the legislature and Governor would do it. The people never had a say. Forty thousand people responded to the 20 flags. I would have liked 200,000 but the public has had amazing input.”

A lot of effort has gone into it, he said. “We considered the values that represent Utah and how that can be translated into a symbol.”

There were 70 different iterations of the beehive, Handy said. “The current flag has a beehive and a star with crossed arrows recognizing the Native American tribes. The new flag has a star under the beehive with eight points for the tribes. Utah is named after a Native American tribe.”

People said using the beehive is just trying to placate the LDS church, he said. “The beehive is to celebrate our heritage and respect the Native Americans whose land this was.”

The warm red on the flag represents the Southern Utah red rock, said Handy. “The white is for snow in the mountains and the blue is the same color as in the current flag for the sky.”

It’s exciting, said Handy, who did not reelection and won’t be returning to the legislature in 2023. “I feel bad I don’t get to vote on it or debate it or carry the bill. But I’ll participate as much as I can and be watching of course.”

Handy said there were people who were very, very angry at him. “I explain they can still fly their flag. Some said ‘doesn’t the legislature have better things to do?’ Over time I think people will embrace the new flag and they’ll be happy with it when it’s done.”