Legislators OK putting Illinois on path toward a new state flag


Illinois could be on a path toward getting a new state flag after lawmakers sent Gov. J.B. Pritzker a bill that would establish a commission to decide if the emblem needs a makeover and, if so, what it should look like.

The bill establishes the Illinois Flag Commission, which will have the responsibility of not only recommending if a new flag is needed but also submitting up to 10 possible redesigns.

The recommendation must be presented by early December 2024 and would incorporate public opinion, with a special focus on input from young people in the state.

“I really want people to get excited about Illinois again,” state Sen. Doris Turner, a Springfield Democrat who’s sponsoring the bill, said in an interview after the bill passed the House on Wednesday. “This is an opportunity for us to engage with the electorate.”

During the House floor debate, Democratic Rep. Kam Buckner of Chicago emphasized that the commission will consider the cost of replacing existing state flags when making its recommendation.

The current state flag features a bald eagle with the state motto in its mouth standing on a rock bearing the year of the seal’s creation and of the state’s incorporation. It’s almost a carbon copy of the state seal.

The bill was passed by the House by a 72-40 vote, after being approved by the Senate in March in a 39-16 vote. It now awaits the governor’s signature. His office on Wednesday offered no hint on where he stands.

“The governor will review this legislation when it reaches his desk,” Pritzker’s office said in an email.

A similar process for a new state flag was conducted in Utah, which wound up changing its flag to pay homage to its nickname, “The Beehive State.”

“When Utah did this exercise, they received about 7,000 designs and over 44,000 public comments,” Turner said. “I am hopeful that Illinois will see that same type of interest.”

Mississippi lawmakers voted in 2021 to replace the flag they had for over a century because it included the Confederate stars and bars, but Illinois’ and Utah’s flags were considered for a redesign for less controversial reasons, among them a feeling that the flag isn’t particularly popular and is rarely flown.

The Illinois flag still has its fans, including GOP state Rep. Travis Weaver of Pekin.

“If there was something within it to be ashamed of I would have no problem looking into it. but I don’t think we just change history because we feel like it. I mean it’s a great flag with really great parts to it,” he said. “I think when people think ‘What is our government doing? Oh, we’re changing our flag? I mean does that really serve me as a citizen?’ I don’t really think it does.”

Turner offered a rebuttal to his argument that legislators should be focusing on weightier issues.

“As we work on projects, it doesn’t always have to be doom and gloom, the sky is falling,” she said. “This is something that is enlightening and elevates our electorate and gives them something to be prideful about and excited about.”

Cook County changed its flag last year, adopting a design that was created by a Glenbrook South High School student. And Chicago’s flag is wildly popular and is plastered all over town in the form of shirts, hats, stickers and even tattoos.

Turner thinks a new flag — if a change is recommended by the commission — could resonate with citizens in a similar way.

“I’m very excited,” she said after the bill passed. “Can you tell I’m excited?”


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via Chicago Tribune https://ift.tt/7ANKBtY

May 17, 2023 at 05:57PM

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