Utah governor signs bill for new state flag, veto referendum filed to stop it

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed Senate Bill 31, a bill to establish a new state flag, on March 21, 2023. The new flag will go into effect on March 9, 2024.

The current state flag, which was adopted on March 9, 1911, will be referred to as the historic state flag.

Cox said, “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. 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.”

The campaign 2023 Utah Flag Referendum filed a veto referendum targeting Senate Bill 31 on March 6, 2023. To put the measure on the 2024 ballot, signatures from 8% of active voters as of Jan. 2023 (134,298 valid signatures) are due on April 12, 2023. If enough signatures are submitted, the bill will be on hold and the question of whether or not to adopt a new state flag will be decided by voters on Nov. 5, 2024.

Chad Saunders, the lead sponsor of the referendum, said, “I feel that sometimes legislators stop listening to the citizens that voted them into office. I feel that happened with SB31. They made a mistake. We’re here to remind them of that.”

Four veto referendums have appeared on the ballot in Utah: two in 1954, one in 1975, and most recently in 2007. In all cases, the referendum efforts resulted in the targeted law being repealed.

In 2020, voters in Mississippi decided on a statewide ballot measure to select a new state flag. The measure was placed on the ballot by the Mississippi State Legislature. At the election on Nov. 3, 2020, Mississippi voters were shown a colored picture of the new proposed state flag, named the In God We Trust Flag. Voters approved adopting the new state flag.

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