There is an old saying that you can tell a lot about a person's character by the way he treats someone who can't fight back.
So Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, proved a lot about his character Thursday, especially during a session in which bullying has been discussed at length.
Noel chairs the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee, which was considering a bill to repeal a measure in state law that prohibits the Division of Air Quality from adopting an environmental regulation more stringent than federal law.
One of the witnesses speaking in favor of the measure was Joro Walker, an attorney for Western Resource Advocates, who articulated that Utah's unique geographic qualities require more local attention to environmental issues.
Noel, who has never hidden his hatred for environmenalists, launched into a series of questions to Walker that had nothing to do with the topic. He asked her how many times she had sued the state and she replied she has taken on the state in regard to accessing public records, but answered repeatedly she was not involved in a lawsuit challenging the Alton Coal project in Kane County, which Noel kept pressing her about.
In fact, he ignored her answer that she wasn't involved and asked again how many times she had sued the state.
He finally said, "I just want to know why she hates my grandkids and kids down there so they can't get any jobs down there."
She protested that it was an unfair statement and she doesn't hate his grandkids, but he ignored her, having scored in his mind points against an environmental attorney.
This is an example of why some people don't deserve the power they are given.
Noel, who reportedly commented before the meeting that he was going to "bring (Walker) down," even offended his own Republican colleagues on the committee with his treatment of someone who was just trying to give clarity to legislators considering a complicated issue. Some members said they were considering filing a complaint against Noel with House Speaker Becky Lockhart.
The real power in Utah •When Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka agreed to be the guest speaker at State Sen. Jim Dabakis' weekly morning caucus at the Capitol Wednesday, Dabakis told his mostly liberal Democrat audience Ruzicka was the most effective lobbyist in the history of the state.
Later that day, she proved his point.
Several professionals in the adoption community spoke to the House Health and Human Resources Committee in favor of a bill to make it easier for adopted children and their birth mothers to find each other, if they so choose.
They were joined by mothers who had placed their children for adoption who gave emotional testimony about wanting later to find their children. The bill also made it easier for adopted children to find out about their medical histories.
It simply changed the presumption of an adoption being closed, which was established in 1941, to it being open with the mother having the option of making it closed.
But after all the testimony in favor of the bill, Ruzicka testified against it, fearing that if the privacy presumption wasn't there a young birth mother might opt for abortion.
That's all it took.
The committee voted unanimously to send the bill back to the Rules Committee, effectively killing it.