Inland port bill passes with mayor against, city council and legislators in favor

Salt Lake City's mayor called on state lawmakers to consider re-drafting House Bill 2001 on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, accusing leaders of not taking local concerns into consideration. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — The ship has sailed for a Utah inland port, and Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski is not on it.

A makeover of the port bill — considered by some to be a major economic boost — passed by wide margins at a special session of the Utah Legislature on Wednesday.

But Biskupski did not back down on her opposition.

“With this bill, Salt Lake City still does not have final say on land use decisions for tens of thousands of acres,” she said in a statement. “Our values and our desire to clear our air are at greater risk for decades to come.”

Earlier, the mayor announced her opposition in a legislative committee meeting.

“No city, especially the capital city, should roll over and allow for this,” Biskupski said.

But she may be increasingly isolated in her position. The entire city council negotiated with the state to come up with changes to the port, which was created in the waning days of the last legislative session. Council members say the mayor had little to no involvement in negotiations.

“She did not help in this process,” said Erin Mendenhall, chair of the Salt Lake City Council. “It’s still not too late for her to come to the table, and we hope she will.”

Another council member, Charlie Luke, said the fix on Wednesday was “not perfect,” but a big improvement to the port from what was planned.

He said it shrinks the port boundaries, gives more attention to the environment, provides opportunity for schools to get more tax money and allows the Salt Lake City Council zoning authority.

“We’re making something that was not good for the city better,” he said.

Also, at the special session, lawmakers passed a tax measure to give Utah parents $34 more a year for each dependent, and a bill to force out-of-state businesses to collect Utah sales tax when you buy their products online.

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