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Dave Olson, Published February 16 2013

Readers split on whether to change North Dakota license plate design

FARGO – Should North Dakota change its license plate look, a design that has remained basically the same since 1993?

As the question is debated in the state Legislature, Forum readers submitted a bumper crop of personal opinions, with respondents split about 50/50 on whether the current plates do a good job reflecting the state’s image.

The dozen or so voicing opposition to a change were strongly opposed, often citing cost as a major reason.

Readers open to a new look typically included a suggestion or two about how to go about it.

Many of the ideas were tongue in cheek, especially when it came to a new slogan for the plates.

The current slogan printed atop license plates urges people to “Discover the Spirit.”

In place of that, Dan Bertsch, of West Fargo, offered a number of possibilities, including:

• Bison World Order.

• More Jobs Than People.

• Lots of Dollars But No Sense.

Steven Donahue, of Boise, Idaho, suggested “A Well-Oiled State,” and “Drill, Baby, Drill.”

For some readers, the current license plate, which shows a buffalo standing on the Plains below a big sky, has had its day. They suggest inserting new imagery, such as Teddy Roosevelt, oil wells and “something agricultural.”

The views of those who want to keep the current design can be summed up by this comment from Janinne Paulson, of Stanley:

“I suppose I’m boring as heck, but I still love our current license plate design, and I don’t think we need anything new, especially if a new plate and design will cost millions of dollars.

“Just because the state’s coffers are full doesn’t mean we need to spend it on things we don’t need,” Paulson wrote.

Monica Stich, of Fargo, had this to say: “How about bringing back milk programs for our children and skip the new plate proposal?”

The license plate proposal, known as Senate Bill 2326, currently is in committee.

Sponsors include Sens. Gary Lee, R-Casselton; Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks; and Dave Oehlke, R-Devils Lake; and Reps. Ed Gruchalla, D-Fargo; and Blair Thoreson, R-Fargo.

If passed, the bill would allow for redesigns of the state’s various classes of license plates, which are made at the state penitentiary. The bill also appropriates as much as $6.2 million for the redesign.

A similar proposal failed in 2009.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555