2017-2022 Nebraska license plate

2017-2022 Nebraska license plate

LINCOLN — A state senator is hoping the Legislature can step in and stop a controversial new license plate from being issued.

State Sen. Burke Harr of Omaha introduced an amendment Thursday that would delay issuing a new standard license plate design for a year.

He introduced the proposal amid concern from constituents about the plate’s depiction of the Sower and its perceived lewdness. The bill would extend the current design, featuring a goldenrod sprig and a meadowlark, for another year, giving Gov. Pete Ricketts time to come up with a new design and gather input from the public, he said.

“I thought this was important enough to have a debate,” Harr said. “We have become the butt of jokes.”

To be debated by the Legislature, however, the proposal will have to find another vehicle.

Harr filed his amendment to Legislative Bill 768, a speaker priority bill sponsored by Bellevue Sen. Tommy Garrett that would create a “choose life, fund adoption” license plate.

But Garrett said he plans to pull the bill today, saying it has a number of “hostile” amendments attached and that the Legislature can’t afford another filibuster. “We’re out of time,” he said.

The new plate design has generated buzz since it was unveiled by the governor last week. Some say it’s boring, while others say the image of the Sower, as designed, carries a sexual connotation.

And while the state says the plate depicts the Sower that is a statue atop the State Capitol, some have raised concerns that the design more closely resembles a sower sculpture on a bell tower on Michigan State’s campus.

Harr said other two-dimensional designs of the Sower are better, such as the one on the 1954 Nebraska Territorial Centennial stamp. Harr said he’s also looking to see if there are other bills to which he could attach his amendment and give it a shot to be debated this year.

State law requires that new standard license plates be issued every six years. The new plates featuring the Sower are set to roll out in January 2017.

Taylor Gage, the governor’s spokesman, declined to comment on Harr’s proposal. But state officials have previously said the plate design is final and that printing is already in progress.

“I would hope we could put a hold on that order if it were in the state’s best interest,” Harr said.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9581, emily.nohr@owh.com

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