Former president, real estate developer, businessman and television celebrity Donald Trump has never been shy about putting his name on buildings, businesses, golf courses, wineries, steaks, vodka and other things.
In fact, there’s an entire Wikipedia page listing all the “things named after Donald Trump.”
But now lawmakers in several states want to name roads and parks for the former president, including in Florida where Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howie-in-the-Hills, has pre-filed a 2022 bill to name U.S. 27 as “President Donald J. Trump Highway.”
House Bill 29, filed Aug. 9 for the 60-day legislative session that begins Jan. 11, calls on Florida’s Department of Transportation (FDOT) “to erect suitable markers designating President Donald J. Trump Highway” along U.S. 27, which is the state’s longest highway, spanning 481 miles Miami to the Georgia state line north of Tallahassee.
Sabatini submitted a similar bill during the 2021 legislative session that failed to gain traction, dying in the House Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee before a first hearing.
“This great highway runs through the heartland of Florida in the State that President Trump calls home,” Sabatini wrote on his Facebook page last January, “Looking forward to working on this important designation honoring one of the greatest Presidents in American History.”
U.S. 27 in Florida is already designated the Claude Pepper Memorial Highway. A decade after his death, the Legislature in 1999 named the highway for the Florida Democrat who served nearly a half-century in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
But times have changed. Since his 2018 election, Sabatini has been an avowed fan of the 45th president. Sabatini is running for Congress in Central Florida’s 7th Congressional District against incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy unless reapportionment carves out a new congressional district for him.
Getting HB 29 adopted may be more difficult than following through with the proposed renaming. Changing names of, or giving names to, U.S. numbered highways and interstates is a relatively simply affair.
According to the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO), there are 157,724 miles and 193 highways/routes within the U.S. Numbered Highway System and another 48,440 miles of roads and 72 highways in the nation’s interstate network.
Because states, not the federal government, actually own and maintain the federal highways and interstates, states can give names to federal road spans within their jurisdictions as long as roadway numerical designations are not altered. Congress can also do it.
The Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) Systems Implementation Office lists dozens of “memorial roadway designations” issued since 2014 and spells out the process for requesting a road be named.
If adopted by the Republican-controlled Legislature, Sabatini’s bill won’t be the first to name a road for Trump.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt in July signed into law a bill adopted by lawmakers naming a 20-mile stretch of U.S. 287 from Boise City to the Texas state line the President Donald J. Trump Highway. To do so, the Legislature repealed an Oklahoma law that requires honorees be dead for at least three years.
In Ohio, Rep. Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta, has filed HB 261, seeking to rename Mosquito Lake State Park as Donald J. Trump State Park. The bill was filed April 22 and awaits a hearing before the House Finance Committee.
Meanwhile in New York, Democratic lawmakers are trying to remove Trump’s name from a 436-acre undeveloped state park he donated in 2006 after a proposed golf course project fell through. A bill calling for Trump’s name to be removed was withdrawn, but is not dead.