Iowa's newest license plate? Why you could see 'Don't Tread on Me' on bumpers this year
Iowans could sport bright yellow license plates with a rattlesnake and a popular slogan associated with individual liberty and conservative causes under a bill moving through the Iowa Senate.
Senate File 47 would allow the Iowa Department of Transportation to issue plates with the "Gadsden Flag," designed during the Revolutionary War in 1775 by Christopher Gadsden and was used by the Continental Marines. The yellow flag depicts a coiled timber rattlesnake above the phrase "Don't Tread on Me."
A three-member Senate subcommittee voted to move the measure forward so it can be considered by the full Senate Transportation Committee. But senators said they still have some questions.
Why is the Gadsden flag is so polarizing?
Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, opposes the bill. He said the flag has become divisive after being displayed in at events such as the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol.
"From where it initially started, the Gadsden flag, to where it is today it’s become divisive, it’s become aggressive, it’s been hijacked by the right extreme," he said. "And I don’t necessarily think that I want to support that."
The flag is often associated with liberty, limited government and gun rights. It has also been a common sight at protests against government COVID-19 restrictions.
Opinion:Yellow Gadsden flag, prominent in Capitol takeover, carries a long and shifting history
Sen. Scott Webster, R-Bettendorf, said he doesn't see the flag as divisive. While he supported moving the bill forward so he could have further conversations and hear from constituents about it, he said he's undecided.
"I think we’ve got to have more conversation before I’d say whether or not I’m for it or against it," he said
Sen. Mike Klimesh, R-Spillville, who chairs the Transportation Committee, said Department of Transportation staff informed him that nonprofits can already design and sell license plate stickers under current law. He said he'd like to learn more about that process.
"It may accomplish the goal of the bill without us having to pass anything else," he said.
More:Want to see all of Iowa's specialty plates? Take a peek
What would the 'Don't tread on me' license plate look like?
The bill proposes that the license plate would be yellow at the top and bottom "fading into white in the center."
The left side of the plate would depict a black and white rattlesnake coiled on grass and the phrase "Don't Tread on Me" would appear at the bottom of the plate.
How much would the new license plate cost?
The cost for a Gadsden flag license plate would include a $35 fee, while a personalized Gadsden flag plate would be an extra $25, which is the fee for personalized license plates under current law.
Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowans could buy license plates with the Gadsden flag under GOP bill