LINCOLN — The Sower is here to stay.

The design of the state’s new standard license plate is final and the plates are in production, according to the Governor’s Office. They will start rolling out in January.

After Gov. Pete Ricketts unveiled the new plates this week, concern rippled across the state that the design is underwhelming at best and bordering on inappropriate at worst.

The plate features the Sower, a statue atop the State Capitol, pulling grain from a pouch and throwing it. But critics say the image, as designed, carries a sexual connotation.

The plate also has a navy blue stripe across the top, “Nebraska” in gold lettering, and the years 1867 and 2017, nodding to Nebraska’s 150th birthday next year.

They will replace the plates featuring a goldenrod sprig and meadowlark, the state flower and state bird.

The plates were created by Department of Motor Vehicles staff and graphic design personnel from vendor 3M, with final approval from the governor. The design was part of a larger contract with the Department of Corrections to produce the plates, according to the Governor’s Office.

As in past years, the new plates have generated buzz, both critical and complimentary. As of Thursday, the Governor’s Office had received about 30 emails on the topic, said Taylor Gage, the governor’s spokesman.

An online petition asking Ricketts to find an alternative had more than 1,100 signatures as of midday Friday. The petition was started by a University of Nebraska at Omaha student.

The Governor’s Office has been monitoring online feedback but maintains that the Sower is emblematic of Nebraska’s agricultural heritage.

“It is unfortunate that some people have tried to disparage this iconic piece of our heritage,” Gage said.

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

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