OPINION — Volunteers are scrambling to collect the last 5,000 required signatures in Washington County for the Utah State Flag Initiative by the Feb. 15 deadline. If this initiative succeeds, it will give voters the opportunity to decide whether we keep the flag that has represented the state since 1913 or adopt the new “Beehive” flag as our official state flag.

Utah’s current state flag, most recently reaffirmed on Feb. 16, 2011 | Stock image by Oleksii Liskonih/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

In March 2023, the state legislature narrowly passed, and Gov. Cox signed into law, Senate Bill 31. SB 31 changed our official state flag. The new flag becomes official on March 9, unless the Utah State Flag Initiative passes.

I should note that right after SB 31 passed last year, a large group of citizens sponsored a referendum that would give voters the opportunity to vote on the new flag. This measure fell short of the 137,929 signatures required to get the issue on the ballot, since the referendum process requires that all signatures be gathered within a 40-day window.

While the referendum didn’t succeed, in June 2023, the Restoring the Utah State Flag Initiative was filed. Like the referendum before it, this initiative will place the flag issue on the November 2024 ballot, thus giving voters the right to decide which flag will officially represent our state. (Note that if you signed the referendum, you’ll need to re-sign the initiative. The signatures don’t carry over.)

This issue isn’t about what flag voters like over the other, per se, but about the process by which the flag was changed. We feel voters should have had the right to decide what flag officially represents us from the beginning of this debate.

Additionally, many of us feel the state government has more important issues to deal with than to change our state flag and frivolously spend our hard-earned taxes while doing it. To date, the state government has spent at least $500,000 changing our flag. That number will only go up unless our initiative passes.

We have until Feb. 15 to gather 134,298 signatures statewide. Our internal numbers show we have gathered over 100,000 signatures. We are almost there!

Please join us in getting this issue on the November ballot. Visit restoreutahsflag.com.

Submitted by STEFANI WILLIAMS, Toquerville.

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