SALT LAKE CITY — Legislators voted to let a task force study Utah’s state flag and see if it needs a redesign.
“Symbols matter,” said Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, in supporting SB48. “It’s silly enough that we put them on our faces, we put them on our clothing, the pins that we (have) matter.”
Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, said SB48 wasn’t meant to detract from the current state seal that appears on Utah’s flag, but it will create a task force that will review the current flag code and review if the banner should be updated.
“Times do change. ... This is not an effort, at all, to take away our history. This is an effort to modernize a symbol of our great state,” Handy said.
The task force will review the need for a redesign and include Utah communities, schools and graphic designers in a six-month period between June and November to study possibilities. They will then present a report with their recommendations to the Legislature by the end of the year.
If the flag is changed, the current state flag will be designated as the “governor’s flag” and can be used for ceremonial purposes, Handy said, adding it wouldn’t just be shelved.
“I’m a fifth-generation, Utahn. I don’t want to take away from Utah’s history. ...I revere my ancestors. I revere the sacrifices of those gone before,” he said.
But Handy said he had young constituents come to him and say they didn’t relate to the current state flag.
“We, however, have an opportunity to have an updated, more modern, more inclusive symbol of our state,” he said.
But not everyone agreed.
“I’m concerned about trying to update our history,” said Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville. “I don’t think that we need to try to turn our state into high school or college or university and give up our heritage and say this is not the flag anymore. ... I don’t need a task force to tell me whether or not I like this flag,”
Wilcox said Utah’s flag gets lost among the other 35 states with seals on fields of blue. He also said it is lost from a marketing standpoint.
“It should mean something that we understand. Whether it’s this other flag (Sen. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton held up in the chamber) or whether it’s another one that we come to agree upon, whatever that is, should communicate what Utah’s about in a clear way, or recognizable way,” Wilcox said.
The makeup of the task force in the bill was changed from seven committee members to nine. It will be made up of the governor and the lieutenant governor, or their designated appointees, three members of the Senate, three members of the House and the executive director of the Department of Heritage and Arts.
The bill specifies that they can work with outside groups, such as graphic designers, public and private entities, including schools.
“We want the people of Utah to be involved in this discussion,” said Handy.
It passed in the House 49-23 Thursday and the Senate concurred to the amendment. The bill now goes to the governor’s desk.