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Utah’s new state flag takes another step, but time is short

The latest iteration of a proposed new Utah state flag as it appears in SB31, which lawmakers are considering this legislative session.
Utah Legislature
The latest iteration of a proposed new Utah state flag as it appears in SB31, which lawmakers are considering this legislative session.

Utah’s adoption of a state flag is one step closer to reality after SB31 passed out of committee Tuesday morning. It now heads to the Utah House floor to join the mad dash to pass bills before the session ends.

Bill sponsor Sen. Daniel McCay made an amendment that states if the proposal is passed, the historic flag will still be flown on legal holidays, ceremonial events and during the legislative session.

In McCay's presentation, he explained what the different parts of the new flag represent and symbolize.

“The red represents the red rocks of southern Utah and symbolizes perseverance and the state’s unique perseverance,” he said.

McCay added that both the 5-point star and the 5 mountain peaks represent Utah’s five historic indigenous nations. While the new flag has been a passion project with several designs that involved the public, lots of folks still have thoughts — both in the Capitol and among Utahns.

Standing outside City Creek Mall in downtown Salt Lake City on a snowy Valentine's Day, Brandon Lupus said he thinks too many state flags have a similar look to Utah’s current design of the state seal on a blue backdrop.

“I love it,” he said of the colorful new flag. “It’s cool to see it has the mountains, the red rocks. … And it’s such a unique state flag compared to the blue background with the state seal.”

Other shoppers shared their views, as well.

Amy Damyco said she prefers the current flag to the new one because it’s more “dignified” and has more going on with the bald eagle, flowers and year the state was founded.

In her view, the new flag is “very simplistic, it’s very basic.”

“I think it lacks a lot of the history and importance that a flag would usually convey better,” she said.

The current state flag of Utah

But to graphic designer and illustrator Juliana Iger Garcia the simplicity of the new flag is a feature, not a bug.

“I can tell the overall aesthetics are a little more pleasing,” she said. “I think the older one is antiquated [and] busy.”

John Mckenna recalled elementary school when his class went over what all the different parts of the current state flag represent, but he was less sure about the symbolism in the new flag.

“I love its simplicity,” he said. “I can see mountains, I see the beehive still but the red looks like a murder has happened in the valley.”

Austin Baugh said he prefers the current flag because the new one is too similar to Colorado’s state flag design.

“I’m not super pro-government but [the current flag] looks unified, connected,” he said. “I liked that quite a bit because I feel like that embodies Utah.”

The fate of the new flag — and numerous other bills — will come down to the final moments of the 2023 legislative session, which ends on March 3.

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