Mike Noel, R-Kanab—not your mother’s Cowboy Caucus crony—recently got a little comeuppance from a federal judge, who in a temporary injunction affirmed that Congress can make laws to govern federal lands. And, he said, just because you’re a Utah legislator doesn’t mean you can snub your nose at those laws. That’s exactly what Noel tried to do with House Bill 155, which told the feds to buzz off instead of enforce laws on public lands in Utah. Meanwhile, grass-roots group For Kids & Lands held a press conference the day after the state law was to take effect. The hope was to raise community awareness and warn Gov. Gary Herbert that the lands belong to the people, and to help fund education in the state.
The latest Census Bureau report has some good news amid all the bad news for Latinos and youth. While eligible Hispanics generally chose not to vote—48 percent voted in the last presidential election, compared to 64.1 percent for whites and 66.2 percent for blacks—there’s a tidal wave of U.S.-born kids coming up. “Each year, an estimated 800,000 Latino youths turn 18,” a report from the Pew Center says. Republicans, says Jim Gonzales of The Target Group, are dancing around the edges of this issue. “It’s clear we’re not going to deport 11 million people [the estimated number of illegals in the United States],” Gonzales says. Pew estimates that by 2020, 37 percent of voters will be nonwhite. For candidates like Mitt Romney, who got only 17 percent of the nonwhite vote, this should be a wake-up call.
It’s pretty clear that the far right is maintaining a stranglehold on Republican politics in Utah. At least that’s the message from Saturday’s GOP convention, where delegates rejected any changes to the state’s caucus system. Count My Vote, a moderate group that includes former Gov. Mike Leavitt, wanted to make it harder for candidates to avoid a primary by raising the convention vote threshold from 60 percent to two-thirds. It didn’t happen, and that likely throws the group into high gear collecting signatures for a ballot initiative next year. On another questionable note, delegates selected former state Sen. James Evans, who’s also the owner of a payday-lending company, as their new chairman. Looks like more of the same anti-government, anti-Obama chatter as the GOP pushes Mia Love back into the spotlight.