Senate passes slightly altered design as new Utah state flag

Jan 30, 2023, 1:22 PM | Updated: 1:48 pm
Sen. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton, looks on as Michael De Groote displays a Utah state flag during a me...
Sen. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton, looks on as Michael De Groote displays a Utah state flag during a meeting of the Utah Senate Business and Labor Committee to discuss a bill to change the state flag at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. (Ryan Sun, Deseret News)
(Ryan Sun, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is one step closer to having a new state flag — but it’s not exactly the design unveiled late last year.

The Utah Senate voted 17-10 in favor of SB31 Monday, a bill that would designate a new state flag — one selected by the Utah State Flag Task Force on Nov. 10 — while classifying the current flag as the state’s ceremonial flag.

Prior to the vote, Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, unveiled a new design for the flag, which replaces the original eight-sided star with a five-sided star. He told his colleagues that the change is the result of unintended consequences that the star yielded.

The eight-sided star under the beehive design was mostly meant to represent the eight federally recognized Native American tribes in Utah; however, a constituent said it looked more like an asterisk, which the constituent said is what many Native American people feel as a result of the government.

A photo of the new Utah state flag proposal unveiled Monday. The new design includes a five-pointed star that replaces an eight-pointed star. (Photo: Utah Legislature) The design originally selected by lawmakers to become Utah's new state flag, if approved by the Utah Legislature. (Utah State Flag Task Force) A proposed license plate that will be created if SB31 is signed into law.

The five-sided star now represents both hope and 1896, the year Utah became a state, according to the amended description of the flag in McCay’s bill.

The bill also portrays the white mountain peaks as a representation of “peace and Utah’s snowy mountains, the peaks of which symbolize Utah’s Indigenous peoples,” while the red segment below symbolizes the “red rocks of southern Utah, … perseverance and the state’s unique landscapes.”

The Senate Business and Labor Committee previously voted in favor of the design with a 6-1 vote on Jan. 18. It had been tabled in the senate for a week, as McCay made some adjustments to the bill.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, which must vote by March 3. Then it goes to Gov. Spencer Cox’s desk for final approval.

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Senate passes slightly altered design as new Utah state flag