Utah inland port legislation earns bipartisan House vote

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) This aerial photo from June 2018 shows where the inland port will be built.

Members of the Utah House on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill that bolsters the role of Salt Lake City and county leaders in the development of a planned trading hub to be located in the city’s northwest quadrant.

The House voted 65-6 for HB347, which alters the membership of the Inland Port Authority Board to include the mayors of Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and Magna township — or their designees — and returns a portion of the board’s taxing and land use authority to municipal leaders.

Amendments adopted Tuesday would also require developers in the inland port area to meet air quality requirements in order to qualify for tax incentives.

“I just want to commend the sponsor of the bill for being willing to work with a lot of different parties regarding the environmental standards,” said Rep. Jen Dailey-Provost, D-Salt Lake City.

Development of the inland port has been among the most divisive political issues in the state since lawmakers first enacted legislation on the topic. Former Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski cut off negotiations with legislators when the original bill passed in 2018 and later sued the state over the law, and meetings of the Inland Port Authority Board have regularly been disrupted by protests.

Salt Lake City leaders have signed off on the latest changes, and the bill’s sponsor, House Majority Leader Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, said his legislation is another attempt to address some of the concerns of inland port opponents. But he added that some concerns, particularly from those individuals who prefer the inland port project be abandoned entirely, would be left unaddressed.

“That may be a concern I may never get to,” Gibson said.

The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration.