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Senate proposes bill to fast-track prison relocation

By Randall Jeppesen | Posted - Feb 19th, 2013 @ 9:30am

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill on Utah's Capitol Hill aims to fast-track plans to relocate the Utah State Prison.

Local officials and state legislature have proposed moving the prison for years, but no concrete plans have been made. During the State of the State Address, Gov. Gary Herbert revisited the idea and said it is time to move the prison from the Point of the Mountain.

Herbert said moving the prison would open the 700-acre lot for tech companies who have expressed interest in the area. The area is prime real estate, as it's close to Draper and directly off the Interstate-15. Several big tech companies have already settled nearby, like Adobe, eBay and Microsoft.

However, location isn't the only concern for lawmakers. A committee concluded last December that it makes financial sense to build a modern, efficient prison rather than spending to upkeep on the current prison.

And now lawmakers will be debating the future of the prison with SB72. The bill, if passed, would create a Prison Land Management Authority, a group of 10 people who would have the power to get bids on the relocation project, select a proposal and then start building. This bill also gives the group the power to spend sales tax and even borrow money to get the project done.

SB72's sponsor, Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said the bill would allow a committee to look deeper into the economic viability of relocating the prison. The committee would then relay information back to the governor to get approval.

No specific locations are being considered at this point, Jenkins said, although other committees have looked at certain locations in previous years. The total cost of demolishing the existing prison and building a new one could be between $500 and $650 million.

This bill is scheduled to go before a senate committee around 4 p.m. Tuesday.

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