A legislative interim committee has voted to sponsor a bill that would certify contractors who clean up former methamphetamine labs.

The bill, proposed by Rep. Lamont Tyler, R-East Millcreek, also would establish rules for decontaminating motels rooms, apartments, homes and other properties that house the illegal labs.

The proposal is a scaled-back version of last session's HB162, also sponsored by Tyler, which passed the House but was held in Senate.

Some members of the Judiciary Interim Committee on Wednesday expressed reservations about the bill, especially about its potential cost to local health departments responsible for overseeing the cleanups. Tyler responded that is a financial responsibility local health departments already are saddled with.

Tyler said the measure probably would cost the state about $100,000 but did not know how much it would cost local governments. A fiscal note for the original bill offered last year included local costs of about $400,000 per year.

Without Sen. Pete Suazo's affirmative vote, the bill would have failed. The committee agreed to sponsor it on a 6-3 vote by House members and a 1-1 tie vote among Senate committee members present.

"This is still a bill that will be worked on, massaged, possibly amended," said Suazo, D-Salt Lake City. "But overall I think this is a bill I can support."

Capt. Kevin Youngberg, a criminal investigator for the state Department of Public Safety, said 266 meth labs were discovered by law enforcement officials last year. Of them, only about 35 percent were full-scale labs where a complete cleanup was required.

Tyler said a standard for decontaminating meth lab sites is needed so when the properties are sold or occupied, the new owners or residents can be assured the property is safe. He said the responsibility for decontaminating the sites still would remain with the property owner.

Federal funds provide for initial decontamination of meth labs sites, including removal of toxic substances. Tyler's bill, titled Standards for Illegal Drug Lab Decontamination, would apply to removal of potentially toxic residue such as particles that may be present in the carpet or on the walls.

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