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Rick Bowmer, AP Photo

Gov signs bills to fund homeless shelters, cut down wait time at polling places

By The Associated Press  |  Posted Mar 17th, 2017 @ 5:12pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert signed 84 bills this week, including measures that fund new homeless shelters and cut down wait times at polling locations.

Herbert's office announced the bill signings Friday afternoon, though at least 19 of them were signed into law earlier this week. Most of the measures don't deal with hot-button issues of the legislative session.

Homeless resource centers

One bill approves more than $10 million to help with a few of the state's planned homeless resource centers in Salt Lake County.

The new shelters are meant to deal with Salt Lake City's overflowing downtown shelter.

Two new shelters will be built in Salt Lake City, with one for women-only. Officials are considering three sites in West Valley City and two locations in South Salt Lake for a third homeless shelter.

Herbert's office announced the signing Friday.

Election wait times

Another bill requires county clerks to try to keep wait times down, and if lines are too long on Election Day, the state elections office can require the county to come up with a plan to manage wait times at the next election.

The measure from Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, is a response to last November's election when he and other voters waited hours at some polling places to cast ballots.

Thatcher's location was one of only two polling places in West Valley City. Salt Lake County cut its polls from 322 during the previous presidential election to 37 in 2016 — a nearly 90 percent drop — to run an election mostly by mail.

New state prison bonds

Herbert also signed a bill allowing the state to issue an extra $100 million in bonds to pay for the new state prison.

The measure adds to authorization lawmakers gave two years ago for $470 million in bonding for the new prison in Salt Lake City.

Officials say the extra money will help for road upgrades, utilities and other infrastructure needs near the new facility.

The total estimated cost of the new prison is about $650 million. It's replacing an aging prison in Draper and is expected to be completed in 2020.

Social media, email accounts of the deceased

Another measure signed by the governor allows residents to pass down their social media and email accounts to relatives as easily as they do their belongings after they die.

The law, which was approved Friday, allows a person to give their heir or trustee power to oversee their digital accounts if they die or are incapacitated.

Rep. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara, says digital property has become very valuable, so it should be protected just like physical property.

Snow said both Google and Facebook have told him they support the law. More than a dozen other U.S. states have enacted similar proposals.

Herbert has until March 29 to sign or veto bills or allow them to become law without his signature.

Signed legislation: http://bit.ly/2nNqi8S

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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