High school students inspire bill for new Illinois state flag

By Brett Rowland, Illinois News Network

State Rep. Daniel Didech, D-Buffalo Grove, has introduced a bill to scrap Illinois’ state flag and hold a contest to choose a new one. 

Didech said he crafted the bill after meeting with two Stevenson High School students who proposed the contest.

House Bill 3799 calls for the Illinois Secretary of State to start a contest for a new design for the official Illinois state flag. The contest would be open to residents 21 and younger and students attending a public university in the state. It would also create a State Flag Selection Committee to pick the winning design. The Legislative Reference Bureau would then draft a bill to replace the existing state flag with the winning design. Like all other bills, it would need legislative approval and the governor’s signature to become law.

The Illinois state flag is the State Seal on a white background. Former Illinois Secretary of State Sharon Tyndale created the State Seal that’s been in use since 1868. The seal features an eagle holding a banner with the words of the state’s motto: “State Sovereignty, National Union.”

Didech said if his bill gains traction in the legislature, it will be because of a grassroots effort. He said one of his goals has been to encourage students to be more involved in state government. Didech is a Stevenson High School graduate. 

“If we do it, it will be grassroots motivated,” Didech said. 

Illinois has had two state flags in the past 200 years. Lucy Derwent, of the Rockford chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, designed what became the first state flag in 1915. Florence Hutchison of Greenfield redesigned the state flag. Hutchison’s design became the official state flag in 1970, according to the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. Hutchison died in 2004.

Didech’s bill has yet to be assigned to a committee.