Utah is renewing its image. Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill and an executive order formalizing the change of the official flag following several years of evaluation and search for the new design. This measure will come into effect on March 9, 2024.
The new flag features a large yellow beehive, symbolizing Utah's industrial sector, set within a hexagon and accompanied by three horizontal stripes of blue, white and red in descending order. In addition, five peaks are drawn on the white stripe, representing the state's mountainous terrain.
The House has passed the state flag bill!
Not only will Utah have a beautiful historical flag, after Senate concurrence, we’ll soon have a new flag to fly in the Beehive State. pic.twitter.com/iZfm5bfzLR
— Lt. Gov. Deidre M. Henderson (@LGHendersonUtah) March 2, 2023
Before the change was enacted by Cox, it had to be approved by the Utah State Legislature. In early March, the state Senate passed the bill by a vote of 15 to 10. Subsequently, the bill passed the Utah House of Representatives, receiving the support of 40 of the 75 legislators.
In 2020, the design process for the new flag began. "I am grateful for the tens of thousands of Utahns who participated in designing and selecting this new flag. Just as we have much to be grateful for from our ancestors, I hope that today’s Utahns will be worthy of the mantle that has been placed upon them to preserve and build Utah’s legacy for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come," the governor said.
Here are the initial flags designed in 2020 by Riverton, Utah resident @barnesdesign. In a lot of ways, these designs are the foundation of the Utah flag design. pic.twitter.com/8WaUroEcem
— Daniel McCay (@danmccay) March 17, 2023
Maximum respect for the former flag
Despite the change, the old flag will still be have its place in Utah's history. In the executive order, the governor made sure to designate the former flag as a "state historical flag" out of respect for the state's history:
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. Our traditional Utah state flag has been a symbol of that faith, diligence and strength of the people of Utah since its adoption. I am further requesting that, during an upcoming session, the Legislature amend SB 31 to require the historic state flag be flown above the new state flag when the two flags are flown together. This will ensure that the historic flag will remain a symbol of our history and strength. As governor, I am proud to issue today an executive order requiring that the current state flag be flown at the Capitol at all times and at all state buildings on certain holidays and special occasions.
Utah became the 45th state admitted to the union on Jan. 4, 1896. The current flag has been in effect since 2011, though this was just a slightly modified version of a flag originally instituted in 1911.
Fifth state to change its flag in the 21st century
Utah is the fifth state to renew its flag in the 21st century. In 2001, Georgia changed the flag that it had flown since 1956. It included Confederate symbols, so state legislators rushed to change it. The flag was modified slightly two years later, which is the form it currently holds.
Other states that changed their flag in the 21st century were Louisiana (2006 and 2010), Mississippi (2001 and 2021) and Oklahoma (2006). In the latter case, the state only modified the background color of the flag, without changing the coat of arms.