The House sponsor of a bill aimed at relocating the Utah State Prison plans to meet Tuesday with House Speaker Becky Lockhart and others to reach a "substantive" decision on whether to move the project forward this session.
Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, said he has a sixth version of the bill — which would replace a fifth version he also drafted — to share with legislative leaders.
"I think we are all committed to finding the right path to follow," Wilson said, adding that he was uncertain whether there would be a conclusion about how to proceed before the session ends Thursday.
Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, was optimistic that the latest update would pass muster with his colleagues and said Lockhart, who last week expressed reservations about the speed with which the proposal was moving forward, had "mellowed out" as far as her "nonsupport."
Lockhart was more circumspect.
"Representative Brad Wilson is working to address my concerns, and there are several changes he is proposing that I think are moving it in the right direction," Lockhart said. "I’m encouraged by the work being done but I am going to reserve my opinion until I am able to go through all the proposed changes and their impacts."
Wilson said the sixth substitute would mirror much of the language in the bill’s fifth version. That substitute of the version the Senate passed would have allowed allow Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to appoint six of the Prison Relocation and Development Authority’s 11 members, an increase of two. Draper City would have one seat on the board, rather than two; House and Senate leaders would each appoint two members. The Utah Association of Counties would no longer be represented on the board.
It provided for hiring a chief administrative officer and staff to assist the authority as it seeks proposals to build a new prison, tear down the old one and redevelop the 690-acres the facility now occupies. It would recommend a plan that would then have to be approved by the governor and Legislature. The fifth substitute also restored a conflict of interest provision for membership on the executive board and set a time line for when the authority must begin meeting.
Unlike the version approved by the Senate last week, the fifth version of the bill no longer contained language that empowered the board to acquire land for a new prison — something that would not be necessary if the preferred site happened to be land already owned by the state. Also gone was a provision barring the authority from recommending a plan that keeps the former prison site under state control beyond the conceptual plan stage for the project.
— Brooke Adams
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