House committee says yes to state prison move

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm •  Published: February 24, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah measure that declares support for moving the state prison has cleared another step in the Legislature, with a House committee voting unanimously Monday to advance it.

The proposal is one of two from Kaysville Republican Rep. Brad Wilson to encourage a move of the 700-acre facility in Draper, just outside Salt Lake City.

The area surrounding the prison has become a high-tech corridor in recent years. Moving the facility, proponents say, would free up the area for real estate for development. They also say the current prison already is too small and too old.

"It's worn. It's falling apart," Wilson told the committee Monday. "Basically the resolution says we've studied this issue for long enough, and it's time to act."

Wilson's proposal is a resolution, not a bill. That means if it passes, it will be a formal urging from the Legislature, but not an enforceable law.

A group of House Republicans last week voted in favor of the idea, indicating it likely will pass in the House. But Democrats in that chamber have not formally weighed in on the issue.

If Utah legislators and the governor choose to move the prison, the state could save as much as $1.8 billion per year, according to an outside consulting group hired by the Legislature. But the governor has stressed that the state should not rush the decision.

Officials haven't decided where they would put the new prison if they close the old one. That would be up to a committee of lawmakers and community leaders called the Prison Relocation and Development Authority.

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