During floor discussion Wednesday on a $113 million capital facilities bonding bill, several House members pleaded on behalf of the State Hospital in Provo, which has housed the mentally ill for many decades.
"They need a new pediatric unit," said Rep. Laura Black, D-Sandy, in offering an amendment to SB282 to fund the design phase for the structure this year.
The current children's housing -- half a century old -- is seismically and electrically unsafe and does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Black said.
Rep. Stephen Clark, R-Provo, called the situation "untenable."
"If you were down there to see it," Clark said, "you would be ashamed at the way we're dealing with children."
If the $2 million design can take place this year, construction plans should be shovel-ready in 2011. Clark estimated the new building's price tag at about $35 million.
Rep. Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake City, was adamant that the project should not be put off any longer.
"It's a pig-hole," she said. "This is a value statement about how we feel about vulnerable and sick children and whether we're OK with warehousing them in a deplorable pit of disgust."
Black's amendment passed and SB282 now returns to the Senate for further consideration.