Maine legislators consider changing the state flag back to the original design

The current flag has flown across the state since 1909
Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 12:25 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WMTW) - Since 1909, the Maine State flag has featured the state seal -- a farmer and a sailor, with the state motto, “Dirigo,” meaning “I lead,” over a blue background.

The sponsor of the bill to replace it has the state’s original flag in mind -- featuring a green pine tree and a blue star over a light yellow background.

”We are the pine tree state, and I think it is a good representative, all-inclusive design,” said Rep. Sean Paulhus, D-Bath said in an interview at the State House. “Our state flag currently with a blue background in our state seal looks very similar to many other state flags,” as do New Hampshire’s, Vermont’s, Pennsylvania’s, and New York’s.

Bill opponents, like House Republican Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, like the flag we have.

“I like the blue background. You know, I think it goes back to Civil War significance to have that blue flag,” Faulkingham said in an interview. “The sailor and the farmer have historical significance back to the roots of the state of Maine, and that’s what they represent.”

Another issue -- the bill legislators are voting on doesn’t include a picture of the proposed retro flag, just a description, with the secretary of state having the final say on the design.

“So, we really don’t know what it will look like,” Faulkingham said.

But Paulhus, who used be a State House tour guide, believes the pine tree flag is popular.

“The people have embraced it,” he said. “I see that flag more on houses than the current state flag.”

The pine tree flag wasn’t the only version proposed this session. Another bill proposed replacing one of the men on the current flag with a woman, but that bill died in committee.

Faulkingham said, “I don’t think the people of Maine want us down here and changing our flag. I think they think that we’ve got more important things to get to.”

The House and Senate have each voted once to approve, or engrossed, the Paulhus bill.

The Senate added an amendment to send the final decision to voters via a referendum.

The chambers will need to reconcile that difference and pass the bill a second time, enactment, in order to send the bill to the governor’s desk.