The Flying Our Colors license plate design.

Iowa currently has roughly 100 specialty license plates celebrating everything from our love of the outdoors, our support of education and the vehicle owner’s military service and/or awards or the owners’ college or university of choice.

With relatively few exceptions, money generated by the sale of the specialty license plates goes to the state’s general fund. State Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa, R-Council Bluffs, is working to create another — and we think worthwhile — exception to the way money from the sale of specialized license plates is used.

Hanusa has introduced a bill that would utilize the fee from sales of yet another specialized license plate for much-needed flood relief. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the devastating 2019 flooding along the Missouri River, there are many who are still dealing with the costly impacts of the flooding.

“I filed House File 2079 to give Iowans another license plate option, ‘Flying Our Colors,’ which is so named because the design is based on the Iowa state flag,” Hanusa said.

The difference is that the specialty plate fee — $35 for the initial issuance and $10 for renewals — would, for the next three years, go to the Iowa Flood Mitigation Board rather than the state’s general fund. After three years, the Legislature would vote to end the funding diversion or extend it.

Created by lawmakers the year following the flood of 2011, the Flood Mitigation Board works with flood mitigation issues in all 99 counties. Last year, lawmakers allocated $15 million to the board for flood relief, most of which was earmarked for flood relief in hard-hit Mills and Fremont counties.

In her Condition of the State message to the Legislature as this year’s session opened, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds called on lawmakers to allocate another $20 million to the Flood Mitigation Board this session.

Hanusa said any money generated by the “Flying Our Colors” license plate would be in addition to this year’s legislative allocation for the Flood Mitigation Board. The hope is it will have the kind of success the state’s “Black Out” plate has found. That specialty plate has generated more than $2 million since last July when it went on sale.

As an added benefit, there would be no cost to the state to design a specialty license plate for the flood relief effort. The “Flying Our Colors” license plate was designed by the Iowa Department of Transportation several years ago, one of three proposed designs for a new plate voted on by Iowa residents. The design came in second in the voting.

Hausa’s bill passed a house subcommittee last Tuesday and is headed to the full House Transportation Committee for consideration. A companion bill in the Senate, managed by Sen. Tom Shipley, passed a Senate subcommittee and is headed to the Senate Transportation Committee.

Hanusa said the purpose of the bill is three-fold: First, to raise additional funding for flood relief; second, to give a morale boost to Iowans struggling with flooding issues across the 99 counties; and third, to raise awareness of the continuing need for flood relief efforts.

“Many Iowans and Iowa businesses are still heavily impacted by ongoing issues caused by the historic flooding of 2019, and I think there is benefit to keeping the awareness high among our fellow Iowa citizens,” she said.

We agree.

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