SALT LAKE CITY -- Legislation moving review of a potential prison relocation project forward limped out of the House and was sent back to the Senate on Wednesday.
Members of the House amended SB 72 several times before approving the measure and sending the patchwork legislation back to the Senate.
The House bill adjusted membership on the board overseeing the potential move and included a key provision that any new facility not be privately owned. The board established by the bill would be charged with putting together a request for proposal for the possible prison relocation.
Quick action on the latest version seems unlikely, as the Senate amended the bill a number of times over three days of review. Much of the discussion has been about who should have a voice in the proposal.
The House amendment reduced the number of representatives from Draper from two to one and removed a representative from the Utah Association of Counties as a potential board member.
House sponsor Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, suggested there is urgency to move the prison review process forward.
"This is not going to be an easy process, but I can say absolutely this is the right thing to do," he said.
Lawmakers have been told the relocation of the prison could generate as many as 40,000 jobs in the Draper area on the 700 acres of land the prison now occupies, with a financial impact estimated to be as much as $20 billion over 25 years.
Not everyone is buying the numbers or the rush to move forward.
"I don't think this bill is ready for prime time. The issue of moving the prison is a good one, but I'm taken aback by the 40,000 jobs and $20 billion. The property sounds like it is made of gold and sounds too good to be true," said Rep. Mark Wheatley, D-Murray.
Wilson said the property is unique because of its access to major corridors, and he projected the current prison property could become a high-tech center later if the proposal is allowed to move forward.
"The high-tech sector isn't going to wait for us to decide if we're going to do this," he warned.
House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, said the most important thing is to get the process moving and warned lawmakers to not let perfect become the enemy of good.