(The Center Square) – Motorists traveling into Iowa may see new, rebranded welcome signs on state roadways if a new bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Carrie Koelker, R-Dyersville, becomes law.
Koelker, who also serves as the executive director of the Eastern Iowa Tourism Association, said having cohesive branding for all the welcome signs is important and that some of the current signs feature old slogans and former governors’ names on them. She also recommends that the governor’s name not appear on the signs to avoid having to replace the signs with a change in leadership, regardless the signs’ condition at the time.
“This bill will hopefully heighten the awareness that, number one, it needs to be done, and number two, to get the partners around the table to figure out how we can get this done efficiently, effectively and consistently,” Koelker told The Center Square in a phone interview.
The bill, SF 404, currently proposes appropriating $350,000 for the 2022 fiscal year to the Iowa Department of Transportation for the removal and disposal of the signs currently along the highways and the rebranding, creation, purchase and installation of the new signs.
“Everyone’s going to have their opinion on what [the signs] should say,” Koelker said. “Somebody’s going to want to say, ‘Welcome to The Corn State.’ Somebody’s going to want to say ‘Welcome to the Petroleum State’ or ‘World’s Greatest Fair.’ I think we want to keep it very welcoming and simple. I don’t know that you want to start jumping into branding these signs so you feel like you need to replace them as time goes on.”
Iowa legislators are also considering prohibiting the discharge of a firearm from a motor vehicle on a public highway, requiring the Department of Transportation to request a $1 donation from anyone renewing motor vehicle registration to help maintain the state’s scenic byways, and mandating the installation and maintenance of adult changing stations at highway rest areas.
The Iowa Department of Transportation did not respond to request for comment by press time.