FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 27, 2019
Salt Lake City, UT – With only fifteen days left in the annual legislative session, Rep. Francis Gibson has released H.B. 433, a bill that proposes numerous changes to the structure of the recently created Utah Inland Port Authority.
The proposal would expand the powers of the port authority by allowing the port to set up “project areas” outside the boundaries of its jurisdiction. It also would further solidify its hostile takeover of land that previously was under the control of Salt Lake City, giving the port authority one hundred percent of captured property taxes for an additional fifteen years beyond the twenty-five years already granted, and prohibits cities from challenging the authority or actions of the port authority.
This proposal follows a year of contentious proceedings surrounding the port authority, including high-profile disputes with the mayor of Salt Lake City, major changes to the enacting legislation in the last hours of the 2018 legislative session, uproar over alleged conflicts of interest, issues of transparency and communication with the public, and extreme concerns over the environmental impact of the port in surrounding communities.
“It was hard for us to imagine how the inland port process could get any worse. Based on the shenanigans during last year’s session, his comportment as a member of the board, and now this bill, Rep. Gibson seems determined to push the bounds of our imagination,” said Chase Thomas, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah.
“Rather than allowing the officials closest to the people continue the process of creating an inland port, lawmakers wrested control from Salt Lake City and granted authority to a board of unelected individuals who would act more favorably toward business and industry interests. The surrounding community continues to be trampled over in the Legislature’s haste, robbing it of valuable revenue and limiting its ability to seek justice in court.”
Alliance for a Better Utah is a good government advocacy and watchdog organization based in Salt Lake City. The organization works to improve the lives of all Utahns by ensuring balance, transparency, and accountability in Utah politics, policy, and government. More information at www.betterutah.org.