Minnesota flags staying put — for now

NEW ULM — The old state flags aren’t going anywhere soon.  A new Minnesota flag was unveiled on Dec. 19. It was the sole survivor of a competition where thousands of Minnesotans submitted designs. The design submitted by Andrew Prekker of Luverne was chosen — a dark and light blue flag with a white star.  

In New Ulm, flags around the city still fly the old colors and art in the center. City Finance Director Nicole Jorgensen said they have not received direction from the state on the new flag since it was announced to the press.

“It wasn’t anything that we were notified of ahead of time,” she said. “On the city side, nothing. There’s been no direction from the state. The state hasn’t said, this is what we’re doing, or you’re going to have to do anything by a certain date. They haven’t given us any information about how it might affect us or anything.”

The city is currently responsible for state flags in city buildings and parks. This includes the City Hall Council Chambers and the line of flags by the Glockenspiel.

Since the state flag hasn’t been changed since 1953, Jorgensen said they don’t know how much it would cost the city to replace these flags. No estimates are available either.

“I don’t even know they’ve actually approved or authorized the flag at the state level completely,” Jorgensen said. “We wouldn’t do anything until those new flags will be available for purchase.”

State procedure indicates the new flag won’t become official until Statehood Day May 11. There is still a chance the new flag won’t fly if it is rejected by the Minnesota Legislature. Minnesota GOP Chairman David Hann and Deputy Chairwoman Donna Bergstrom released a press release Wednesday stating their intentions to save the current flag and reject the old one.

“The flag the DFL eliminated was a version of the historic flag our regiments fought under during the Civil War,” Hann said. “Minnesota was the first state to offer troops to the Union cause in 1861, beginning a long tradition of leading the nation in confronting injustice. The DFL quest to erase our history is repugnant and should be rejected.”

Jorgensen said the city has not received any comments one way or the other regarding the current flag situation.

The state seal is also scheduled to be replaced in 2024. Instead of the Native American and settler art of the original, the state loon will now be featured. Jorgensen said there is a possibility the current city seal will be changed as well since it carries the same art as the state seal.

“We have considered remarketing and rebranding in the near future,” she said. “The seal might be part of it.”

If it is decided the city will change the seal, Jorgensen said it is likely they go with a different design from the state seal. In doing so, the city would not be subject to future state changes.

“I’m sure there’ll be a process with public input and drawings,” she said. “That’s a process [City Manager Chris Dalton] is initiating at some point.”

There is currently no timeframe for when this process will be open to the public. The new flag will be considered at the state legislature in 2024 and decided upon before Statehood Day May 11.

Source: The Journal-Daniel Olson