- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A lawmaker who called for an overhaul of Nebraska’s state flag is turning to the internet to create a new look that he hopes will stand out more and better reflect the state’s culture.

State Sen. Burke Harr, of Omaha, said he wants to see ideas from the public and may try to change the flag again if a design receives a strong positive reaction.

“What do we have to lose?” he said. “It’s not that there’s anything wrong the current state flag. It’s duplicative of the state seal. But what I would like to see is something that’s more easily recognizable and distinguishable.”

Harr introduced a resolution in January to create a legislative task force that would explore new designs for a state flag, but the measure stalled in this year’s session. The idea’s prospects in next year’s session are unclear. In a statement, a spokesman for Gov. Pete Ricketts said the governor has other priorities.

The current flag is blue and features the circular state seal in silver and goal. The seal depicts a steamboat on the Missouri River, a train heading toward the Rocky Mountains, a smith with a hammer and anvil and state motto, “Equality before the law.”

Harr said his staff was approached by officials from Skillshare, a New York-based online learning community, which offered to create new designs via crowdsourcing. Harr said he and his staff will review the entries to see if any are particularly eye-catching.

Harr said Nebraska’s flag resembles several other state flags with blue backgrounds, and argued that it doesn’t reflect Nebraska’s spirit and culture. Many residents show their state pride by displaying the University of Nebraska’s famous red “N” and Husker flags, he said.

States such as Colorado and California and cities like Chicago have iconic flags that people proudly fly and recognize, Harr said. Meanwhile, he noted that Nebraska’s state flag hung upside down at the Capitol for more than a week in January before someone noticed.

“The fact that the Nebraska flag could fly upside-down for over a week without anyone noticing shows that, from a design perspective, it has major flaws,” said Michael Karnjanaprakorn, the founder of Skillshare.

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Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter at https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte

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