Maine’s general issue license plate may soon look like this, if approved in the Legislature. Submitted photo

AUGUSTA — A bill proposing to change Maine’s general issue license plates from the chickadee to the 1901 Maine State Flag is scheduled for a public hearing at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Legislature’s Transportation Committee.

The bill, LD 1965, is titled An Act to Authorize the Secretary of State to Provide a New General Issue of License Plates.

The chickadee plate has been in use for 24 years and, according to Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, some are so worn they are no longer identifiable.

“License plates need to be easily visible by other drivers, toll authorities, and law enforcement,” Bellows said. “And too many chickadee plates on the roads today are in rough shape given their age.”

Rep. Lynne Williams, D-Bar Harbor, chairwoman of the Transportation Committee, sponsored the bill and has received bipartisan support on the committee. She said many Mainers have shared the same concerns and are excited about the prospect of change.

The 1901 Maine State Flag featured a lone pine tree and a blue star on a buff background. It was the first official flag representing the state, other than its militia. It was replaced in 1909 with the current flag that includes the state coat of arms on a blue field, a moose, a pine tree, a farmer and a seaman, the North Star and the words Dirigo and Maine.

If the bill passes and is signed by Gov. Janet Mills, the switch will take place from spring 2025 to spring 2026. The replacements will not cost vehicle owners and those who wish to keep their vanity plates will be able to do so.

Following the hearing, a work session is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday for further committee discussion.

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