This original flag with the 1901 Maine state flag design was made in 1908 to be displayed at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held in Seattle in 1909. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

AUGUSTA — A proposal to ditch Maine’s current state flag and replace it with a design based on a version from the early 1900s may not go before voters until 2026 now that both the House and Senate have voted in favor a two-year delay.

The Senate voted 20-13 Monday in favor of L.D. 471, which would establish a five-member Maine State Flag Commission to assist Secretary of State Shenna Bellows in approving the design of the new flag. The bill also was approved by the House of Representatives last week and faces final votes in each chamber as well as approval from Gov. Janet Mills.

The proposal comes after lawmakers voted last year to hold a referendum this fall so voters could decide whether to redesign the state flag based on an earlier version used from 1901 to 1909. The original flag has a star in the upper left corner and a pine tree in the center, but there has been debate about details of the design and what exactly that flag would look like.

The Dirigo Flag Company’s version of the original Maine state flag. Courtesy / Jeremy Hammond

There are at least two different designs being considered – a popular version created by Portland-based Maine Flag Co. that features a stylized pine tree, and another design with a more realistic tree that historians say is more consistent with the original state flag.

If ultimately approved by voters, the design would replace the current flag, which is blue and bears the state seal featuring a pine tree with a moose at the foot of it flanked by a farmer resting on a scythe and a seaman resting on an anchor. Under the measure passed last year, the Legislature left the final decision about the design to the secretary of state.

Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, was the only lawmaker who spoke about the proposal on the Senate floor Monday, saying he doesn’t support the bill.


“This relates to the never-ending saga about deciding what to do about our state flag,” Bennett said. “We are on a path to have a vote this November, in 2024, and this bill would delay the vote until 2026. … I think it’s about time we just made a decision on this. The people of Maine are ready.”

At left is the current Maine state flag featuring the official state seal. At right is a stylized version of the 1901 Maine flag made popular by the Maine Flag Co. Press Herald file photos

House Majority Leader Mo Terry, D-Gorham, the bill’s sponsor, said in written testimony last month that she felt it was important to improve the process to approve the design of a new flag. “Rather than placing this responsibility on the secretary, having a commission would ensure that diverse perspectives are taken into account,” Terry wrote.

She said the Nov. 2026 date for a referendum would give the commission and the secretary of state more time to solidify the design.

The bill includes a fiscal note that says the secretary of state’s office already has enough funding for one ballot of average length in the Nov. 2026 general election, but if the number or size of the questions should exceed one ballot, an additional $266,000 may be needed. Other costs, including creating and staffing a new commission, would be absorbed within existing budgeted resources.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.