Utah is getting a new state flag next year but how it is flown may not be exactly what the Utah Legislature approved earlier this month.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed SB31 Tuesday afternoon, the final step needed for Utah to adopt a new flag while transitioning the current design into the state's "historical" flag. The bill goes into effect on March 9, 2024, the earliest date the new flag can be adopted.

However, his signature comes with a bit of a caveat. The governor also issued an executive order that calls on the Legislature to amend some of the bill's details while dictating how the historic flag will be used in the future.

It calls for the historic flag to be flown at the Utah Capitol at all times and at all state buildings during all state holidays and any "special occasions." The order also asks for the Legislature to place the historic flag over the new design in times when both flags are flying on the same pole. The bill currently states the new flag will be flown above the older design beginning on March 9, 2024.

"I believe that Utahns should take great pride in our state's history and never forget the sacrifices that have been made by our ancestors," he said in a statement. "Our traditional Utah state flag has been a symbol of that faith, diligence and strength of the people of Utah since its adoption."

Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, who sponsored SB31, tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he plans to create a future bill to incorporate the changes Cox proposed.

"I'm grateful the governor found a way to (ensure) that our current flag will maintain an important role in the future of Utah," he added.

Utah's flag has remained mostly untouched from 1911 up until the forthcoming changes. The original flag was designed by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1903 prior to tweaks approved almost a decade later.

The Utah Legislature set up a task force in 2021 that oversaw the process to design a new flag. The task force ultimately selected a design in November 2022 that was slightly altered during this year's legislative session.

The new design narrowly cleared the Legislature with a 40-35 vote in the Utah House of Representatives and 19-9 vote in the Utah Senate.

The bill could also end up on a future ballot, adding another wrinkle into all of this. A group of Utahns completed the paperwork earlier this month seeking a public referendum on SB31. According to Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson's office, the movement currently has 137 official signatures as of Tuesday, far below the 134,298 signatures needed by April 12.

Many of the signatures currently being collected may not have been submitted to the state yet.

During a briefing with reporters Thursday, Cox said he appreciates the passion that Utahns have shown for the historic design but he is also surprised with how "contentious" the process became over the past few months.

He added that he liked how the bill was able to balance the historic design with a design that stands out better than all the other states that also fly flags that feature a state seal on a blue background.

"I appreciate that we can have a distinct flag that's different from almost the 30 other states that just have a seal on their flag," he said last week. "I'm excited (about) that piece of it but I'm glad we're not getting rid of our history and we get to keep (the current design)."