Seismic study bill moves to full House

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Utah schools may finally get a checkup to determine if they can withstand a serious earthquake.

Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, is proposing legislation that would require schools built before 1975 to do a seismic safety assessment before issuing new bonds.

"This gives us the first step, that we can say as a state that at least we acknowledge the potential. We're not hiding from it," Froerer told the House Business and Labor Committee.

The committee approved 1st Substitute HB278 on a 12-2 vote, sending it to the full House for consideration. Similar bills have been sponsored for the past five years and failed to pass.

"The intent is to flag the building for people who are not structural engineers … and bring it to the attention of the building owners so further study could be done," Barry Welliver, a structural engineer, told committee members.

The bill calls for a "Rapid Visual Screening" to be done, where an engineer would look at the exterior of the building and determine if further structural analysis is needed.

Rep. Dana Layton, R-Orem, questioned if the information about the condition of the schools would be public and whether it might alarm parents.

"I'm not saying not knowing is better, but I'm not sure if that's going to alarm people who have to wait 10 to 20 years to get their school replaced, that their kids are going to be at the bottom of a pile of rubble," she said.