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Community legal center backed but not funded

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A legislative committee approved the notion but not the money to help build a statewide community legal center to ensure all Utahns, not just the ones who can afford it, will have legal representation.

SB44 asks for a one-time appropriation of $800,000 from the state General Fund to help underwrite the center, which would be housed in a building named after the late Sen. Pete Suazo and located near West High School.

Fraser Nelson, executive director of the Disabilities Law Center, said the project is the first of its kind in the country. It would create a public private partnership and send a clear message that Utah is doing all it can to ensure that justice exists for all Utahns.

The project would cost a total of $4 million, and a capital campaign to raise money is set to begin in March.

Bill sponsor Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said he realizes in a year of budget cutbacks that obtaining the full $800,000 will be difficult to get.

But he told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that the more lawmakers can come up with, the more positive influence it will have on potential center donors.