Rep. Michael Noel is one of rural Utah’s chief advocates


The man who represents a majority of the rural areas in Utah is deeply rooted as an advocate for his far-flung district.

Rep. Michael Noel dirty from a day’s work on his ranch (Rep. Michael Noel)

Rep. Michael Noel, R-Kanab, has represented Beaver, Garfield, Kane, Piute, San Juan, Wayne, and Sevier counties since 2002.

When he isn’t presenting bills on Capitol Hill, Noel works as a water manager and rancher.

He stays busy selling hay, managing his 150 head of cattle, and developing water rights in his hometown of Kanab,  where he has lived for 40 years with his late wife, Sherry Noel, who passed away on Jan. 12 just before the 2016 Legislative session started.

Noel serves on the Natural Resources Committee, Agriculture and Environment Committee, the Native American Liaison, and the Education Committee.

As the original founder and chairman of the House Conservative Caucus and the Rural Caucus Co-Chairman, he often works on legislation geared towards agricultural and rural communities. Below are the bills he has been working this year and the eventual outcome of each during the final hours of the legislative session.

Rep. Michael Noel built Jackson Flat Reservoir (Rep. Michael Noel)

HB276: Public Lands Management Act. Of all his bill’s during the session that just ended, Noel feels that this is his biggest one. The bill requires the director of the Division of Oils, Gas, and Mining to make a report to the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands, as well as authorizes fees and establishes funding. “If we get control of the land until the Public Land Transfer Act, then this is how we would manage the land for multiple use,” Noel said. This means that they would grandfather in all existing uses, mineral rights and grazing rights. This bill failed to pass.

HB266: Unclaimed Capitol Credits Amendments. Noel says that this bill allows unclaimed capitol credit from local phone companies and power companies to go back to the community so they can use it for schools, non-profit organization, or other community organizations.  He originally started the bill for Garkane Energy, which Noel said has anywhere between $30,000 to $40,000 dollars in unclaimed capitol credit that originally goes back to the state, but he is trying to allow that money to be used locally. This bill passed the House and Senate.

HCR1: Concurrent Waters of the US. Waters of the United States. This bill seeks a resolution to the long-discussed definition of “waters of the United States.” The resolution would be to disapprove of the expansion of the term to include drainages, dry washes, gullies, coulees, and others vessels that only move water after rainfall. This bill has been signed by Gov. Gary Herbert and is now a law in Utah.

HB281: Bigamy Offense Amendments. This amendment was suppose to narrow criminal liability to only be applicable to those who both engage in multiple partner cohabitation and report to be married to more than one person. Noel said it clarifies and limits criminal liability and saves Utah Taxpayers $100,000 in attorney fees, but it failed to pass this session.

HB270: Constitutional Defense Restricted Account Amendments. This allows money to be distributed to a county commissioners, sheriffs, or other county officials to protect the health safety and welfare of the community. This bill passed the House and the Senate.

HB479: Jail Reimbursement Rate Amendments. This bill increases the reimbursement rate for county jail beds that house state inmates. Noel said that this increase will amount to be $3 million dollars. “This is huge for our rural areas because it provides jobs and helps people in my district” Noel said. This bill passed the House and the Senate.

HB363: Grazing Zone Amendments. This bill identifies grazing zones as part of our planting and establishes grazing zones. Noel has done this all over the state, and this particular bill establishes Beaver County as a Utah Grazing Agricultural Commodity Zone. “We feel it has a high value,” Noel said about the grazing zones in Beaver. This bill passed the House and the Senate.

HB367: National Forest Road Obstruction. Noel said that this bill prevents the Forrest Service from putting up road obstructions and shutting down roads in our forest, specifically for roads identified as part of the Utah transportation plan for Cedar City, Powell, Escalante, and Fremont ranger districts of the Dixie National Forest in Garfield, Iron, Kane, and Wayne counties. This bill failed to pass.

Rep. Michael Noel with his late wife, Sherry Noel, Gov. Gary Herbert, and two of his children. (Rep. Michael Noel.)

HB232: Scenic Byway Amendments. This is a property rights issue that deals only with private property. It requires the Utah State Scenic Byway Committee to segment a state scenic byway, National Scenic Byway, or All-American Road at the written request of the owner of property. Noel said it gives an alternative process to segment an area along a scenic area if that area is not scenic. This bill passed the House and the Senate.

HB391: Law Enforcement Revisions: This one ensures that the Bureau of Land Management is complying with certain provisions of federal law relating to agreements for local law enforcement to enforce federal law and regulations on public land. This bill passed the House and the Senate.

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