MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Discover the spirit. That's the slogan printed on North Dakota's license plates, along with an image of a buffalo and a stalk of wheat. Those plates have looked the same for 20 years.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

But state lawmakers have proposed changing the design. And so North Dakotans are brainstorming alternatives to discover the spirit.

BLOCK: Nick Hirchert is among those pitching suggestions. He writes for the FM Observer, a satirical news publication in Fargo. One of Hirchert's ideas is a tribute to North Dakota's infamously harsh weather: If the winter doesn't kill you, the flood will.

NICK HIRCHERT: It'll snow and snow and snow and then the snow won't melt until, heck, probably about April. And then once the snow all melts, it pools into a giant flood lake and the Red River gets so high to the point that we have to sandbag it.

CORNISH: And not to be outdone by neighboring Minnesota's slogan: Land of 10,000 lakes...

HIRCHERT: Land of 10 bazillion oil barrels.

BLOCK: North Dakota has no lack of black gold underground. Hirchert envisioned that petroleum surplus reflected on car license plates.

HIRCHERT: Best fracking state in the union.

(LAUGHTER)

CORNISH: North Dakota's prosperous oil economy has helped fill the state's coffers, and then some. So why not flaunt it?

HIRCHERT: The slogan would be: We have more budget money than you. And it kind of pokes fun at all the budget surplus the state has experienced.

BLOCK: Experienced last year to the tune of $1.6 billion.

HIRCHERT: Kind of also pokes fun at the fact that, well, they've got enough to spend millions on a license plate redesign as well.

(LAUGHTER)

CORNISH: Hirchert would also change the look of the plates. No more buffalo and wheat for him. He'd replace those images with a giant snowman and an oil derrick.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

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