Not all bills passed during the 2016 legislation session are stirring up controversy. The Twitter king of the Utah’s Capitol Hill and #TrendyLegislator Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, proposed SCR18, a resolution that would designate #Utah as the official state hashtag for the state of Utah.
The lawmaker is determined to keep Utah up-to-date in the social media realm. Utah is known for its infamous mommy bloggers and Silicone Slopes tech start-ups who use twitter as their main social platform.
With hopes that the state will be promoted by big social media users, Weiler’s proposal says, “Social media is transforming the way people share their beliefs, ideals, wit, and fancies, and the followers of #Utah are provided with an always-fascinating and never-ending parade of what people talk about when they talk about Utah.”
The concurrent resolution that would designate an official hashtag for the state passed committee unanimously on Tuesday, March 1. The hashtags are already commonly used, but they are not official state hashtags until the resolution goes to the full Senate for consideration.
The resolution is merely a statement from the legislature; it differs from a bill as it is non-binding and does not carry the same influence as a law.
Additionally, the resolution would create an official hashtag for Utah Tourism. The original proposal stated that the official tourism hashtag would be#SkiUtah, but the Utah tourism department urged Weiler to change the hashtag to #VisitUtah.
“I think just the fact that I had to change that speaks to why there is some wisdom in designating an official hashtag so that we can all be on the same page,” Weiler said. “I just assumed that we would want #SkiUtah but the tourism department wants #VisitUtah, and I can see the benefits to that because you can’t ski on red rock and there is more to Utah than just skiing.”
In 2015, Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, proposed similar legislation for The Lone Star State, which made Texas the first state with an official hashtag.
However, everything really is bigger in Texas — including the bill proposal. Texas doesn’t have one or two but three official hashtags: #Texas, #txlege and #TexasToDo.
Rep. Sheets told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the primary purpose Texas passed the legislation was to update the way people communicate throughout the state.
“Our style of communication is evolving. We are using social media more and more. This is a way to encourage the younger generation to get involved in government.”
Both Texas and Utah are paving the way for official government social media legislation.
“Quite frankly, it caught me off guard that Utah didn’t think of this legislation first,” Weiler said.
This isn’t the first time legislation like this has been passed in the Beehive State. Utah is known for creating many unique official state designations — some official, some not.
For instance, in the 2015 Utah legislative session former Sen. Aaron Osmond proposed that the Golden Retriever be designated as the state domestic animal. A real dog-and-cat fight emerged though, as cat lovers rejected the bill.
According to Uutah.gov, Utah has 26 registered state symbols. Interestingly, Utah is also one of two states to have an official folk dance — the square dance. State legislators argue that these symbols and designations are designed to promote tourism, protect wildlife and to help residents have a good time.