by Louise R. SHAW
SALT LAKE CITY—The words and symbols that make up the Great Seal of the United States can guide the Utah State Legislature as it begins the 2018 session this week, according to Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy.
The Latin phrase “E pluribus unum,” displayed prominently on the front of the seal, means “Out of many, one.” And just as the United States of America brought people of many nationalities, races and religions together, Niederhauser said the 104 members of Utah’s legislature will bring different visions, backgrounds and ideas to the table as they develop state policy.
The principle is not easy, he said at the formal opening of the senate session, because as people come together there will also come egos, impatience, misunderstandings and legitimate disagreements.
But ideas and policies will be debated “in civility” and “with decorum–we hope,” he said, “bringing many into one.”
The senate will tackle major issues on topics including education, elections, the opioid crisis and infrastructure needs, according to Niederhauser.
In addition, the national tax reform recently passed has given the state a “once in a decade opportunity” to make changes in state tax law as well.
Tax reform in Utah, he said, should include “broadening the base and lowering the rate.”
Niederhauser shared the history of the United States’ seal with the other 28 senators gathered on Monday, the first day of the 2018 Legislative Session. He told them it took three committees and six years before it was approved by Congress in 1782.
The 13 arrows held in the eagle’s left hand send the message of constant readiness in the face of war, he said, but because the eagle faces the hand holding 13 olive leaves and olives, it shows the country favors peace.
He referenced other Latin phrases on the reverse side of the seal, including “Novos Ordo Seclorum,” which translates to “A new order of the ages,” and “Annuit Coeptis,” which means “Favor our undertakings.”
Besides the concept of “out of many, one,” Niederhauser said he was also “deeply impressed” by the symbolism that references the Providence of God, including a design representing the all-seeing eye of God and the request to “Favor our undertakings.”
He challenged his fellow senators to “do what’s right” for the state of Utah as they serve in this session over the next weeks.
“May we be the best we can be in this hallowed effort,” he said.