House approves prison move resolution, passes hotel convention bill

House approves prison move resolution, passes hotel convention bill

(Matt Gade, Deseret News, File)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's House approved a resolution backing the move for the Utah State Prison in Draper. The Senate killed a bill to give $200 million to update school technology and instead passed a bill to fund new technological devices for students with a tax increase.

The House also passed a bill that will help facilitate a convention hotel for Salt Lake City.

House passes resolution backing prison relocation

A resolution backing the relocation of the Utah State Prison in Draper won House approval Tuesday.

HCR8, sponsored by Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, cites the nearly three years of study about the move, including a report commissioned by the state's Prison Relocation and Development Authority that recommended relocation.

The resolution, which was approved 70-3 and now goes to the Senate, does not specify where a new prison should be built or what will happen to the nearly 700 acres of prime real estate at Point of the Mountain.

Panel recommends bill to exclude disabled students from school grade calculations

Students with an individualized education plan would not be included in the graduation rate used for school grading under the terms of a bill unanimously recommended by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

HB292, sponsored by Rep. Ronda Menlove, R-Garland, has already received unanimous approval from the House Education Committee and the Utah House during floor debate. It will now go before the Senate for consideration.

Governor says Medicaid expansion planning may need special session

After pitching his plan personally to GOP lawmakers Tuesday, Gov. Gary Herbert said the details of how Medicaid expansion money would be used may have to be sorted out in a special session of the Legislature.

But the governor said he expects "clear direction" before the 2014 Legislature ends March 13 to start negotiations about how the state can use what he says is $258 million available under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"I would like to have them give me that authorization, that blessing, that 'go get 'em cowboy' kind of an approach and see what we can do back in Washington. I'm very optimistic," Herbert said.

House passes bill for convention hotel

A bill to facilitate the private development of a long-sought convention hotel adjacent to the Salt Palace Convention Center was approved 53-21 by the House on Tuesday.

HB356, sponsored by Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, offers private developers a tax rebate incentive for building a convention hotel with 1,000 rooms and up to 100,000 square feet of meeting space.

Supporters say the hotel is necessary to keep Salt Lake City competitive with other convention cities and would add to the $7.5 billion the tourism and convention industry contribute annually to Utah's economy.

Senate committee fails to pass $1M school technology bill

With the eyes of the Legislature turned toward a $200 million proposal to fund learning devices in schools, members of the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday halted a smaller $1 million technology proposal.

Sponsor Rep. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, described his bill, HB249, as a "minnow against the whale," referring to the much-larger and heavily discussed HB131, House Speaker Becky Lockhart's proposal for a major investment in school technology.

Anderegg said he would be remiss to not pursue his bill in the event that HB131 runs into roadblocks during the session.

"This may be an inadvertent fall-back position for technology in schools," he said.

Senate advances bill to limit ability of cities to split from school district

A bill described in turn as "sloppy legislation" or "sound tax policy" and limiting the way new school districts can be formed received committee approval Tuesday on its way to the Senate.

HB84, sponsored by Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, would stop the creation of a new school district by city leaders if the difference between the estimated revenues of the two districts over five years is greater than 5 percent.

Hall said the bill seeks to avoid a scenario where a city is able to "cherry-pick" affluent neighborhoods and create a school district with 70 percent of the revenue and only 30 percent of the students.

Senate approves bill giving 'broad' immunity to officers in police chases

A bill looking to give broad immunity to officers involved in police chases squeaked through the Senate by the skin of its teeth with a 15-13 vote Tuesday.

HB20 would give law enforcement officers immunity when it comes to suspects injured in police chases where the police vehicle is marked. It states an officer "owes no duty of care" to a person voluntarily evading police during a chase.

An officer could only be liable for injuries sustained by a fleeing suspect if the officer had "malicious motive" to cause injury, according to the bill.

Bill to increase taxes to fund school technology passes Senate

Lawmakers have yet to hold floor debate on a large-scale and costly proposal to fill schools with learning technology, but members of the Utah Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that begins to answer where the funds will come from.

In a close 16-12 vote, senators approved SB111, which ostensibly aims to address funding inequities in the state by freezing the basic property tax rate. The bill is forecast to eventually generate $100 million in new annual education dollars as property values increase, with the intention of distributing those funds back to schools on a per-student basis.

But an amendment introduced Tuesday would stop schools from directly receiving those funds for four years, if ever.

Instead, revenue generated by SB111 would be used to fund HB131, or the Public Education Modernization Act, which seeks to upgrade the state's technology infrastructure and place a personal learning device in the hands of each of Utah's more than 600,000 public education students.

Contributors: Madeleine Brown, Lisa Riley Roche, Dennis Romboy, Benjamin Wood

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