Walker says he'd sign Lincoln Hills bill

Gov. Scott Walker says he will sign into law a bill that would close the troubled Lincoln Hills juvenile prison by 2021 and overhaul the entire juvenile justice system.

The Assembly unanimously passed the bill on Wednesday. It now goes to the Senate, where Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has been non-committal. Walker says he spoke with all Republican senators to urge them to support it. Walker told reporters that he was confident ``we'll be able to convince a majority of both Democrats and Republicans in the state Senate to vote for it as well.''

Walker says now that counties support the measure, ``I think we're in a great spot.''


2:30 p.m.

The state Assembly has approved a bipartisan bill that would shutter Wisconsin's troubled youth prison within in three years.

The Assembly passed the measure 95-0 Wednesday, sending it on to the Senate. The proposal calls for closing the prison outside Irma by the beginning of 2021, moving the most dangerous inmates into other state prisons and placing the rest in county facilities. The bill authorizes $80 million in borrowing for building or renovating new state and county facilities.

The Assembly passed the bill just over a week after Republican Speaker Robin Vos introduced it. Lawmakers are moving quickly because the Assembly hopes to complete its work for the year by Thursday and Walker has called on them to approve a juvenile justice overhaul before adjourning.

The bill originally called for closing the existing youth prison by mid-2020. Counties expressed concerns about the timeline and how much the bill might cost. And Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said he doesn't know if the bill can clear his house before it finishes its work for the session in March.Vos says counties are on board with the current version of the bill but Fitzgerald remains noncommittal.

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