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Minnesota (U.S.): proposals for a new flag

Last modified: 2023-08-19 by rick wyatt
Keywords: minnesota | proposal |
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History of the Process

Sen. Edward Oliver today introduced a bill in the Legislative to create a task force to study the state flag, and in the House a companion bill will be introduced with John Rhoades (Chair - House Govt Operations Committee) as a co-sponsor.

On Tuesday, Feb. 19th, there will be a press conference in the State Office Building press conference room (across from the Sec. of State's office). Sen. Oliver has requested that Fr. Becker, Mr. Mark Stratton, and I attend and speak to the issue. Others that wish to attend are welcome.

Lee Herold, 16 February 2002

On Feb. 20, 2002 a news conference was held in the news conference room 112 of the State Office Building, next to the State Capitol, to introduce this bill to the media. Sen. Oliver discussed the need to consider a new flag. He argued that flags are important, especially since the Sept. 11th disaster in New York. He argued that the current flag is too complex, that children cannot draw it, and it is time to take a look. He mentioned the NAVA survey that rated Minnesota 67 of 72 North American flags.

[Proposed Flag of Minnesota]  image by Blas Delgado Ortiz, 21 February 2002

I was invited to give a few remarks (I discussed some flag design principles & how the current flag does not meet them), and to introduce our design, (drawn by Edward Mooney a year or 2 ago on FOTW) created by Fr. William Becker in 1988. Mr. Marc Stratton was also there to introduce his amazingly similar design  (white star centered) designed in 1989, just after our design. Both designs were displayed in full sized 3x5 foot nylon appliqued flags, along with the Minnesota flag, and the University of Minnesota flag (maroon with a gold -spanish yellow- letter M). There was much media attention, AP wire item, TV, Radio, print. Front page
picture of me and the proposed flag in our local paper, the Rochester Post Bulletin ( - full article restricted by password & email address).

On Feb. 21, 2002 there was the first committee meeting in the Minnesota Senate, Minnesota Capitol building, Room 107. The committee was the Agricultural, General Legislation & Veterans Affairs Committee, Sen. Murphy, Chairperson, 12 members. The committee had a very full agenda and requested a very short presentation. Sen. Oliver repeated a short version of the remarks of the previous day. At the end of his remarks, I introduced our flag design and an explanation. Questions were directed to the Senator only, and his testimony influenced 2 Senators who realized for the first time that Minnesota has had 3 flags, and the last in 1983 does not make it such a historical item. The chairman determined the matter would be more proper in the State & Local Government Affairs Committee and a motion was entered. In discussion one Senator believed it needed more study (before a study group is established?) and she was going to vote no, although she thought it should be studied. Senator Vickerman was flatly opposed, likes the current flag, does not like the attacks on the farmer. A farmer is shown on the current
flag. The vote was 6 to 2 to refer it to the State & Local Government Affairs Committee, of which Senator Vickerman above is the Chairperson.

The bill has passed one committee. This committee could have killed or tabled the bill.
Senator Vickerman can try to delay the bill or keep it off the agenda if he strongly wants to stop it.
No committee hearings have been scheduled yet in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Lee L. Herold, 21 February 2002

The colors are 3 horizontal stripes of royal blue, white, and Irish green, the white stripe wavy. In the canton is a large Spanish yellow star, representing the North Star, the motto of Minnesota. The blue is for the 10,000 lakes. Minnesota in Sioux language means land of the sky tinted waters. The green represents the agriculture and forests presently depicted on the flag of Minnesota.
Lee L. Herold, 21 January 2003

Minnesota Flag legislation.
Bill to form a committee to study the design of the Minnesota State Flag.
Senate File: SF 3201 and House File: HF 3556.
Search at

The committee would consist of 3 Senators and 3 Representatives.

In the House. Passed the Government Operations Committee. Will be up for a floor vote, date not scheduled. Sponsors, Reps. Erhard, Leppik, & Bradley. The Speaker of the House, Rep. Sviggum, and the Minority Leader, Rep. Pugh both support the bill.

In the Senate. Passed the Agriculture & Gen. Legislation Committee. Referred by the Rules Committee to State & Local Government Operations, Chair Sen. Vickerman. Hearing date uncertain. Sponsors, Sens. Oliver, Scheid, Terwilliger, Kiscaden. The Majority Leader, Sen. Moe, and the Minority Leader, Sen. Day, both support the bill.

The Governor. Gov. Ventura stated on his weekly radio show in response to a question that Lt. Gov. Schunk likes the current flag, and based on her opinion he may veto the bill.

Lee L. Herold, 4 March 2002

Today, Tuesday, March 26, 2002, the State & Local Government Operations Committee Minnesota Senate, Chaired by Sen. Vickerman, Tracy, meet to discuss SF 3201, a bill to study the design of the Minnesota Flag. Testifying were the sponsor, Sen. Edward Oliver, Deephaven, and me. Sen. Oliver gave an excellent presentation on the importance of the flag, how the flag developed, and the need to improve it. I spoke on the flag created by Fr. William Becker that we had presented as one proposal for a new State Flag. Prior to the committee meeting Sen. Oliver had polled the committee of 12 and found only two opposed to the bill, one was Sen. Vickerman the chairperson. However, after the presentation, Sen. Betzhold came out strongly against the idea of a taskforce, stating that "we" are always trying to get rid of taskforces. Sen. Vickerman in his opening remarks, and each time he spoke continued to argue that although the committee was free to vote as it wished, he, personally, was strongly opposed, the current flag says Minnesota to him, and it should not be changed. We do not know if it was the dynamics of a group (committee) where the strong negatives influences the other members, or if Sen. Vickerman had privately talked to his committee members and persuaded them to vote no. On the voice vote, it was 6 opposed to the flag study, and 4 yes. The motion failed and this means there will be no action in the Senate, and the House will not schedule a floor vote this session either. It is too early to determine what other action might be taken or when.
Lee L. Herold, 27 March 2003

Below is the text of the presentation I am going to make before the Minnesota Senate committee.

For a Simpler Minnesota Flag
The purpose of a flag is to be a visible symbol of an invisible bond. The original Minnesota flag was white. It was designed by Amelia Hyde Center in 1893. This flag was unique. The front was white, but the back was blue. So when it moved in the wind it would flash white and blue. It was lovely. In 1957 the Legislature changed the flag. The cost of a two sided flag was prohibitive. The blue reverse became the background color and the white front was shrunk and encased in a large circle. In 1983 the State Seal was standardized and changed. This meant the State flag was changed as well. So it remains today. I remember the original flag. It was elegant. On the original flag the great star pattern was expansive, shooting out from the Seal. The red ribbon entwining the Seal flowed gracefully below. This elegance and grace were eliminated in 1957.
If I like the flag is not important. What is important is how the people of Minnesota react to the flag. And this answer is bleak. All available evidence indicates that it is not a popular flag. It is the United States that created the modern importance of flags. Before the American Revolution, flags were the property of monarchs. Commoners used the king's flag by permission, or by order. It did not belong to them. Then in America, the flag became not the President's flag, not the government's flag, but the people's flag. The people's flag is a flag owned by each citizen. This idea has changed the use of flags worldwide. Now flags really do symbolize people and their ideals. And people have responded with a love for their flags. Nothing better shows the power of flags than the tragedy of September 11th, 2001. Countless Americans reached for and embraced the US Flag, and within 2 days the entire stock of US flags in the entire country was sold out. People needed this symbol to touch, to see, to be reassured, to feel a connection with their neighbors. The US flag was the visible symbol of our invisible unity.
One of the greatest Minnesota emotional events was in 1987 when the Twins won the World Series. A statewide celebration broke out, spontaneous joy, cheers and crowds. Yet, there was a complete absence of the Minnesota flag. Why? It is a design that fails to reach and touch people. The Minnesota flag was not a visible symbol of our common joy. There is little evidence in Minnesota that our flag has served us well. You can educate, advertise, and encourage people, but the current flag will never become popular and useful. It is expensive, too complex, and does not connect with the people. It will not work. Flags that work are simple and meaningful. Our flag is not simple, not meaningful. I urge you to give us a flag we can use, an effective proud symbol of our great State of Minnesota.

Lee Herold, 27 March 2006

On March 30, I testified before the Senate committee. This committee had met already about 5 hours, plus members were in other committees. The meeting started at 6 pm. The members were tired. In the 3/4 hour before I was up, approximate 15 bills were heard and passed. A very fast pace. This bill was the only one to get no votes, but it did pass, to go to the Senate floor if the House also passes the bill.  Now it must pass the corresponding House committee by Tuesday, April 4th. They have a meeting on the 4th, but this bill is not on the agenda (but it may well be heard). The sponsor is a long time and respected legislator, Rep. Phyllis Kahn, but in the minority party.

Below is my last letter to the committee chair, Rep. Kathy Tingelstad:

April 1, 2006
Dear Rep. Tingelstad,
Endorsements to consider a study of the Minnesota flag: Speaker Sviggum, Senator Day, former Senator Oliver.
This passed the Senate State & Local Government operations committee on March 30, 2006. It passed in 2002 the House Government Operations & Veterans Affairs committee. It has been endorsed or supported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Mankato Free Press, Rochester Post Bulletin, Worthington Daily Globe, The Utne Reader, and many others. This is before your committee, but as I understand must have a hearing by April 4th, Tuesday, and I do not see it on the website schedule. This is not a radical bill, it is only a study, and the information it produces could be of great benefit to the State, financially and culturally. I hope you will give this study bill a chance in your committee. Thanks for your kind consideration.

Lee Herold, 2 April 2006

This is a copy of the email sent to notify local Minnesotan's about the results of the committee meeting, Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

Hi Everyone,
Pardon me for not writing you individually. HF3974 failed in the House Government Operations and Veterans Affairs committee by approx. 12 to 6, voice vote. Committee votes are not recorded, so I'm not sure exactly who voted which way. Therefore, the Senate will not likely schedule a floor vote.

However, it is possible, since it passed committee in the Senate, to add it to the Omnibus Bill, instead of a direct floor vote. House sponsor Rep. Phyllis Kahn will discuss this with Senate sponsor Sen. Linda Higgens. We'll see.

This has been a good year. In 2002 a House committee voted to look at the Minnesota flag design, in 2006 a Senate committee voted to look at the flag design. Every major newspaper in Minnesota, except Duluth has supported a look at the flag. We are slowly gaining. Never give up!

Special thanks to former Sen. Edward Oliver, the bill sponsor in 2002, for coming to the hearing. He, unfortunately, could not stay until the actual bill was brought up. And special thanks to Glenn Gilbert, who attended the hearing, emailed the blue US State flags to committee members, and allowed us to use it as a hand out ( ), and when the chair asked for comment from the audience, stepped forward and spoke eloquently about children not being able to draw the flag and more.

Ok, in the House, even with limited time, it was a fair debate. The discussion was reasonable on all sides. We did a good presentation with a good argument. I believe we showed that the flag has failed. The opponents simply  would not accept that the flag is not popular, nor that the complexity is wrong. I told them to go out and ask their people quot;What does the flag look like?" and they'll find 50% say it is blue, with a white circle. Thus it is a moon flag..... right?
So, I am lovingly calling it the moon flag. The moon has no part in Minnesota mythology. But a moon flag is excellent design-wise. The flags of  Japan, Palau, & Bangladesh are sun flags and great flags.

Lee Herold, 4 April 2006

Campaign restarted 2007

A flag design campaign is being relaunched at the legislature, hoping again to "fix" the Minnesota flag. Here's the first email sent to the relevant committee members of the
Minnesota legislature:

Describe the Minnesota flag? Can you?
Probably not.

Most Minnesotans cannot. It's not that way in states with great flags. Our flag may be pretty, but it's not effective. It was changed before, but not fixed. Help our flag, make it great. Support HF 1385 & SF 1454HF.

Lee Herold
2002 SW 2nd St., Rochester MN 55902

This is email nr 2 sent to the relevant committees of the Minnesota legislature today 3/14/2007. I expect to send about 2 a day for a week.

U.S. flag = good design principles.
Minnesota flag = ignores design principles.
Our state flag has problems. It is pretty, but not effective.
The Stars & Stripes were designed according to flag principles, but not the Minnesota flag.
Francis Hopkinson, 1777 designer of the U.S. flag, was an expert in heraldic design, and created a flag that works. Our state flag does not follow good design principles.
Image here of US 13 Star (Betsy Ross) flag
Image here of Minnesota USA flag
Image here of Alaska USA flag

Principles: 1. Simple 2. Meaningful 3. Correct Colors 4. No words 5.Distinctive
This can be fixed.

Support HF 1385 & SF 1454.
Lee Herold, 14 March 2007 The flag appears to be used in real life. A photo taken in St Paul, Minnesota on 2019-09-15 can be seen here:
The fans of Minnesota United soccer team used the flag during the game against Real Salt Lake team of Sandy, Utah.
Tomislav Todorovic, 2 December 2019Extracted from today's Vexi-News: 

"... the state legislature voted to replace Minnesota's state flag. The legislation leaves the design of the new flag to a 13-member commission made up of various interest groups appointed by the governor. By law, the commission must present its design recommendations to the state legislature by next January 1st."
Rob Raeside, 1 July 2023