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House Republicans decided Thursday to push for moving the Utah State Prison from Draper, and will turn now toward figuring out when and where.
The House GOP caucus voted to support HJR19 calling for the move, and also outlining key conditions officials should follow as they search for a new location, design a new facility and sell the Draper prison site. The prison sits on what is now considered valuable land because of development that has surrounded it.
The full House must still consider and approve that legislation, but Republicans hold a huge 61-14 majority there. The Senate would also need to approve it.
"We're changing the dialogue from 'are we moving the prison' to 'how and when.' The next time we get together a year from now, we'll be talking about the nuts and bolts of the relocation," Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, sponsor of the resolution, told the GOP caucus.
The Prison Relocation and Development Authority (PRADA) earlier this month recommended moving the prison. It estimated the net cost at $102 million, after counting money the state would need to spend anyway to upgrade aging facilities at Draper and proceeds from land sales.
Among guidance Wilson's resolution includes for relocation is:
• New prison facilities should facilitate adequate volunteer and staff support. Critics have worried the prison could lose that if the new site is remote.
• The new prison should be near medical facilities.
• "Careful and serious consideration" should be given to the prison's access to courts and visitors, expansion capabilities, surrounding land use and emergency response factors.
• The prison should use modern design to increase efficiency such as each guard being able to watch more prisoners and to "increase public safety, reduce recidivism, and reduce prison population" over time.
• The current Draper prison "should be used, disposed of, or redeveloped through an orderly, competitive, and open process, with the goal of maximizing the economic development potential of the property and achieving the greatest benefit to the state's taxpayers."
Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, said while the issue has been studied the past two years, the state has put off any improvements or expansion to the Draper prison. "We are out of capacity," and said a decision is needed now. Otherwise, he said, "We will be sending people home in the first quarter of 2017" for lack of space.
Rep. Doug Sagers, R-Tooele, one of the places where the prison could be moved, noted he had been a church volunteer for years at the Draper prison. He said inmates often could not attend church services "because there wasn't room," and added that could be among reasons for high recidivism. He said a new prison could help solve such problems.
Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, said a new prison "will be more healthy, more secure," and move beyond warehousing prisoners to offering better training and programs to help ensure they do not return to prison.
Wilson said the resolution is needed to authorize PRADA to move forward with relocating the prison, launching the next phase of figuring out particulars. Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, was among a handful of Republicans who voted against the resolution, saying he would like to see specifics up front before approving a move.
Twenty-one of the 75 House members are employed, have investments in or other professional ties to real estate and/or development interests.
Here is a list:
Rep. Stuart Barlow. R-Fruit Heights. Physician and business executive, including an investment and real-estate company.
Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Bountiful. Retired, owner of real estate management and development co.
Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City. Has real-estate holdings and husband is a real-estate broker.
Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper. Attorney and developer.
Rep. Rich Cunningham, R-South Jordan. Insurance and manager partner of real estate firm.
Rep. Jack Drexler, R-North Logan. Real-estate appraiser.
Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville. Real estate broker.
Rep. Keith Grover, R-Provo. School administrator, principal in real estate companies.
Rep. Lynn Hemmingway, R-Millcreek. Spouse is a real estate company's office manager.
Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper. Construction, property manager.
Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton. Real estate company manager.
Rep. Kay McIff, R-Richfield. Attorney and partner in real estate management and development company.
Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork. Attorney and property manager.
Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful. Architect and shareholder in real estate and development company.
Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden. Real estate broker.
Rep. Dixon Pitcher, R-Ogden. Business exec., real-estate broker.
Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin. Businessman and owner of real estate and property management company.
Rep. V. Lowry Snow, R-St. George. Attorney, owner of real-estate development firm.
Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem. Attorney, lists real estate and developers as clients.
Rep. Curt Webb, R-Logan. Title insurance co. owner.
Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville. Developer.
Source: Legislative conflict-of-interest forms
Twenty-one of the 75 House members are employed, have investments in or other professional ties to real estate and/or development interests. To see a list go to sltrib.com