ST. GEORGE — A bill to rename hundreds of miles of Southern Utah highways after President Donald Trump is one step closer to becoming a reality.
Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, introduced a bill that would rename the Utah National Parks highway, a stretch of roads that winds around all five of Southern Utah’s iconic national parks, to the “Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway.”
Noel’s bill passed the House natural resources, agriculture and environment committee Monday with a 9-2 vote. It now heads to the House for consideration.
The reason for the designation would be to thank Trump for dramatically reducing the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bear’s Ears National monuments in December, Noel said.
“President Trump cares about the public lands,” Noel said. “President Trump’s family cares about the public lands and he cares about Utah and what we’re thinking.”
Despite Noel praising Trump as a hero for Utah, some Utahns say they don’t want roads named after Trump in Utah.
“I don’t think people are going to be willing to drive on a road with his name on it,” said Wendy Garvin, a representative with the Utah Progressive Caucus.
If the bill makes it to the Utah Senate, Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, said he would propose amendments that would rename the frontage road along the highway the “Stormy Daniels ramp way” — a reference to the porn star Trump reportedly had an affair with in 2006.
“I just want the Legislature to understand the level of disrespect that a lot of citizens are feeling by this notion of awarding him this most special byway in the United States,” Dabakis said.
Gov. Gary Herbert also said he isn’t a proponent of changing the name of the highway.
“It’s a little premature it seems like to me,” Herbert said Tuesday in a meeting with reporters. “We like to reward people for doing things that we think are important and proper, but typically, at least in Utah, we wait until people have left office and reward them for the work they’ve done.”
Roads and buildings in Utah are usually named after people who are no longer in office or have died, Herbert said, mentioning Bangerter Highway, James V. Hansen Highway and Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City, as examples. If the bill lands on his desk, Herbert said he would have to hear the arguments for and against it before making the decision on whether or not to veto it.
“We’ll make that that decision if and when that happens,” Herbert said.
The “Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway” would follow a route that includes several roads that travel around and through Zion, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Arches and Canyonlands national parks. It includes parts of Interstate 15, U.S. 191, U.S. 89 and state Route 191, and travels through Kanab, La Verkin, Cedar City and Moab.
The bill would also cost taxpayers $124,000 for signs that would declare the name of the highway along the roads.
Naming a highway after a sitting president has precedent; in 2015, a highway in Florida was renamed to “President Barack Obama Highway.” Also, in New York, lawmakers have considered renaming a state park for Trump on land he donated after plans for a golf course fell through.
- Read full text of the bill: Utah HB 481: Donald J. Trump Utah National Parks Highway Designation
- Contact legislators
- Bill sponsor: Rep. Mike Noel
- Southern Utah Senators: Evan Vickers, Don Ipson, David Hinkins and Ralph Okerlund| Listing of all senators.
- Southern Utah Representatives: Travis Seegmiller, Bradley Last, V. Lowry Snow, Walt Brooks, John Westwood, Merrill Nelson and Mike Noel | Listing of all members of the House of Representatives.
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