Why some Utah Senate Republicans don’t want a new ‘Beehive flag’

Nine state senators, all Republicans, have cast their initial ballot against Utah adopting a new banner.

(Utah Department of Cultural & Community Engagement) The Utah Senate advanced a bill to update the state flag on Monday.

Utah is one step closer to a new state flag after the state Senate advanced Senate Bill 31 on Monday morning — but there are indications that not everyone thinks change is warranted.

The legislation from Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, swaps out the existing flag, which has been in use for more than a century, in favor of a more modern design, which McCay has dubbed the “Beehive flag.”

McCay says the current state flag, which features the state seal on a blue field, will shift to a ceremonial role and will fly over state property on holidays and special occasions at the discretion of the governor.

“We’re not going to ball the other one up and throw it on the shelf, never to be used again. That just isn’t the case,” McCay said, noting he envisions flying the ceremonial banner over the Capitol building when the Legislature is in session.

The bill advanced on an 18-9 vote Monday morning. All nine “no” votes came from Republicans, highlighting a divide among majority caucus members.

“So many of my constituents don’t want it,” Sen. Don Ipson, R-St. George, said, explaining why he voted against the change. “I like the new flag, but I don’t see a reason to change it.”

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Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, another “nay” vote, said there are other issues for lawmakers to focus on.

“I don’t believe this is an important issue,” Thatcher said Monday. “The world will keep spinning either way.”

SB31 faces one more vote on the Senate floor. If that is successful, it moves on to the Utah House for consideration.