Senate committee advances a plan to create a state flag-review commission. A flag designer said this was not a good idea.

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) With the Utah flag on display in the foreground, legislators discuss proposals to design a new state flag. Feb. 13, 2019.

Rep. Steve Handy said he became convinced that there is a pent-up demand for the Legislature to take a look at the state flag after hearing from a number of impassioned constituents.

“The Utah flag is a very nice seal — really a gorgeous seal, but it kind of makes for a mediocre flag,” he explained Monday to the Senate Education Committee.

His HB219, which passed the panel 3-1 on the way to the full Senate, would create a commission to analyze the current state flag, seek out public opinion and potentially solicit design submissions. The 11-member panel would present their findings to lawmakers by November.

The commission’s job, he said, would be “to simply take a look at the process and get public input and perhaps some submissions. It is not to approve or design or do a new state flag.”

The Utah state flag is more than 100 years old. Its deep blue background is punctuated by the state seal — a detailed design showcasing several Utah symbols like a beehive and sego lilies along with two U.S. flags and a bald eagle bowed forward in a crouch.

John Hartvigsen, former president of the North American Vexillological Association, spoke against the bill. He criticized the lack of sufficient representation on the committee and a too-tight deadline. He also panned some of the principles listed as good flag design elements, saying they some of many guidelines to help.

“Some may say well it needs to be something we can put on T-shirts and coffee cups, but do we want a state flag that looks good on a coffee cup or in the Capitol when the president comes to town?” Hartvigsen asked.