Scott Webster. (IA Legislature photo)

A bill that would let Iowans pay extra for a license plate that bears the message “don’t tread on me” has cleared a Senate subcommittee. If the bill becomes law, a specialty Iowa license plate in the image of the yellow Gadsden Flag would be created, with a three inch tall coiled rattlesnake on the left side of the plate and the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me” along the bottom.

Republican Senator Scott Webster of Bettendorf said he voted to advance the bill out of a subcommittee to continue discussing the proposal. “I have a lot of veterans in my district that I think may be supportive of this,” Webster said.

Senator Tony Bisignano, a Democrat from Des Moines, opposed the bill. “I do want to emphasize there’s no disrespect in my comments, but it has become a different symbol,” Bisignano said. “It’s become an extreme right symbol, an aggressive symbol, a challenging symbol.”

Missouri has a license plate similar to what is being proposed in Iowa. (photo from Missouri DMV website)

Senator Mike Klimesh, a Republican from Spillville, said he’s not sure whether the bill will get approved in the Senate Transportation Committee, but it’s now eligible for debate there.

About a dozen states sell Gadsden Flag specialty license plates, including Missouri and Kansas. The Gadsden Flag design dates back to the Revolutionary War. More recently, Libertarians have used the flag as a symbol of limited government. It was flown at tea party protests against President Obama’s health care law and it was among many banners carried into the U.S. Capitol during rioting two years ago on January 6th.

Radio Iowa