In a bout of reason and practicality, Rep. Mike Noel Tuesday evening dropped his bill to rename the National Parks Highway the Donald Trump Utah National Park Highway. The road runs through Grand Staircase, Zion National Park and other national parks in southern Utah.
Noel said he thought Utah should show its gratitude to Trump for shrinking the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. As Noel said, Trump is “a big supporter of national parks.”
The bill would have cost $124,000.
Noel said he expected a “circus” during the debate of the bill because of opposition by environmental groups. What he got was opposition by everyday Utahns. It turns out, most people don’t want a highway named after a sitting president, much less this sitting president.
Gov. Gary Herbert agreed that the effort was “a little premature.” It’s not typical to name roads or buildings for public officials who are still in office.
Adam Brown, an assistant professor of political science at Brigham Young University, pointed out on Twitter that Trump was the least popular Republican nominee in Utah “in a generation.” That’s not the type of politician Utahns are eager to celebrate.
Noel claims that even though he had enough votes to pass the bill, he dropped it because of hundreds of nasty messages and death threats he received in response to the idea. It isn’t very likely that he had enough votes to pass the bill, but the vitriol he received because of it was unfortunate.
As Courtney Tanner with the Salt Lake Tribune reported, “One woman, he said, yelled a string of profanities at him that ended with a distinct ‘f--- off.’ Someone else called him a ‘low-life.’ A few constituents got his home number and said ‘foul, vile’ things when his daughter picked up.”
But the bill was a bit ludicrous in its formation. Sen. Jim Dabakis claimed that if it got to the Senate he would seek to amend the bill to rename the road the “Stormy Daniels rampway” after the adult film star Trump has been accused of having an affair with.
Word is that Stormy Daniels was ready to fly in and appear on the Senate floor in support of Sen. Jim Dabakis’s proposed amendment. That would have been awkward.
Noel’s bill didn’t have much of a chance from the beginning. But what it did do was distract from important issues at a key time during the session when the Legislature was hurrying to finish up.
Legislators need to be more selective with the bills they try to pass.