legislature finalizes prison relocation review proposal

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 11:19 AM

Antone Clark

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers have moved the potential relocation of the state prison one step closer to reality.

Members of the House and Senate both voted late Thursday to approve legislation setting up a board to oversee the process of a possible relocation, effectively moving the process to the next review step.

The bill was amended a number of times over the last two weeks until a compromise plan was crafted by a conference committee of House and Senate members.

“This is the bill that took all session to complete, from the first day to the last day,” said Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City.

One of the sticking points has been how the group overseeing the process would be set up. Lawmakers chose to keep the Prison Relocation and Development Authority, which did an initial assessment of the relocation proposal. The group will be made up of 11 members, six of whom will be appointed by the governor. Jenkins and Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, were part of that review group.

One key provision taken out of the bill in the late compromise was a prohibition against privatizing the prison.

Jenkins said they didn’t want to take away the option from PRADA.

PRADA will initiate a request for proposals as part of its charge, then will come back with a recommendation for the governor and the Legislature. The finalized version removed all prescriptive language on zoning and other technical issues, Jenkins said.

He said the final bill came down to telling the PRADA board to do what it has to do.

Wilson, who co-sponsored the bill, told House members it is important the process go forward.

“At the end of the day, I would remind this body nothing can happen until PRADA comes back and makes a recommendation.”

Lawmakers have been told the relocation of the prison could generate as many as 40,000 jobs for the Draper area on the 700 acres the prison now occupies, with a financial impact estimated to be as much as $20 billion over 25 years.

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