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Utah Lawmaker Slams The Brakes On Trump Highway

Julia Ritchey
President Trump visited Utah on Dec. 4, 2017, to announce dramatic cuts to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments.

The Utah lawmaker behind a controversial plan to rename a highway after President Trump quietly withdrew his proposal after facing criticism.

Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, said he did not want to put his colleagues in a difficult position. It was also unclear whether he had enough votes.

The bill was unceremoniously placed back into the House Rules Committee on Wednesday night, likely ending its prospects for passage this session. 

"I think that might be a comfortable position for many of us," said Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton. 

The bill was met with scorn from Utah Democrats and even some Republicans. Democratic Sen. Jim Dabakis threatened to amend the bill to include an off-ramp named after porn star Stormy Daniels, Trump's alleged mistress. 

Noel said his bill was a way of thanking the president for his decision to rescind two national monuments in Utah last year. The original proposal included a 600-mile stretch of scenic highway in southern Utah connecting many of the state's national parks. 

Trump's popularity in the Beehive State remains mixed. In 2016, he became the first GOP nominee in recent state history to earn less than 50 percent of the vote.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to clarify that Trump was the first GOP nominee in a generation to earn less than half of Utahns' vote. 

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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