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Facing Controversy, House Speaker Greg Hughes Resigns From Inland Port Board

Austen Diamond
House Speaker Greg Hughes announced he'll step down from the Utah Inland Port Authority Board on Tuesday.

Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes is resigning his seat on a board overseeing the development of a controversial land-based port in northwest Salt Lake City. 

Hughes raised eyebrows this month after appointing himself to the newly formed 11-member Inland Port Authority board. The Salt Lake Tribune later reported that the Republican leader owned property within five miles of the port's boundaries, prohibited under the legislation that created the board.

At the time, Hughes defended his property holdings to the Tribune but on Tuesday announced that he would appoint Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, to serve in his place.

Gov. Gary Herbert, who is a vocal supporter of the inland port, tweeted that he respected Hughes' decision to step aside.

Another appointee to the board, Sen. Don Ipson, R-St. George, had earlier stepped down over conflicts of interest. 

The state hopes to turn 20,000 acres of sparsely developed land in Salt Lake's northwest quadrant into a foreign trade zone connecting imports and exports. The project has drawn strong objections from some Salt Lake City officials and residents over its implementation. 

The Inland Port Authority has had a rocky start so far. The body held its first meeting June 18 but was unable to conduct any business as several members had not yet filled out conflict-of-interest disclosures.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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