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USTAR 'dismantling' earns final legislative approval

The state Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.
FILE - The Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.
Silas Walker, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A proposal aiming to eliminate a long-running state program launched over a decade ago to support innovation and so-called "deep tech" companies earned final legislative approval on Tuesday.

SB212, sponsored by Sen. Scott Sandall, R-Tremonton, proposes to dismantle the Utah Science, Technology and Research Initiative, known as USTAR, while salvaging a few of the agency's programs under the umbrella of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

On Monday, the proposal made its final legislative stop, garnering a 67-5 vote in the House.

A competing bill was in play earlier in the session, but the sponsor, Rep. Mike Winder, R-West Valley City, acknowledged it would likely not earn the support of legislators and conceded the effort.

Former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. announced the creation of the research initiative in 2005. The new program, Huntsman said, was designed to leverage Utah's homegrown scientific innovation into a powerful economic catalyst that would make the state a "haven" for forward-thinking researchers and create a system of returns that would expand with each year.

SB212 will now move to the governor's office.