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SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would have required school districts to conduct seismic studies on older facilities before bonding for new construction failed by one vote in the House Monday.
“I don’t think it’s too much to ask these school districts to look at these older buildings,” the sponsor of HB278, Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, said. “If we could save just one child in this state in the event of an earthquake, then I think we’ve done our job.”
But several representatives questioned the need to spend tax dollars on the studies.
“What’s next?” asked Rep. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton. “What’s the next inspection we’re going to require school districts to do?”
Rep. Dana Layton, R-Orem, said she supported the bill in committee but has since changed her mind because it’s clear any school built before 1975 is not up to current earthquake safety codes.
“Money spent to tell us what we already know is just money diverted from education,” Layton said, describing the inspections as “basically a quick look see for a few hundred bucks and I think it’s a waste of the state’s money.”
House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, said he supported the bill because voters had been asked to approve bonding for capital improvements that didn’t prioritize seismic retrofits.
The bill, similar to legislation proposed in past sessions. failed to receive the 38 votes needed to pass the House on a close vote of 37-35.