A state Senate panel has passed a scaled back version of a bill that would close the troubled Lincoln Hills youth prison. Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) chairs the Judiciary Committee. “The Senate caucus from the Republican side does not feel comfortable just pushing a bill through without them having any input into what that bill was,” Wanggaard said.
The Assembly unanimously passed a bill last month that would close Lincoln Hills and pay for new state and county-run facilities to replace it. But the Senate version of the plan removed the funding. It passed Wanggaard’s committee Wednesday on a 3-2 vote, with Republicans voting for it and Democrats against.
The bill’s chief Assembly author, Representative Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh), said that action essentially kills the bill, because Assembly Speaker Robin Vos will not call the chamber back to vote on the Senate version. “He’s not going to reward bad behavior, and I think this is extremely bad behavior on the Senate’s part,” Schraa said, who blames Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. (R-Juneau). “Playing political football with a transformational piece of legislation is just reckless.”
Speaker Vos’ spokeswoman said the Assembly has completed its work for the legislative session. Wanggaard insisted that the Senate version is “consistent with what the Assembly did,” and said that chamber can return to vote on the Senate version. “It’s 8 months until Election Day. They can’t come back for one day?”