Senate unanimously approves youth prison bill

posted by Associated Press - 

The Wisconsin Senate has unanimously approved an $80 million juvenile justice overhaul plan that would close the troubled Lincoln Hills prison by 2021 and replace it with smaller regional facilities.

The Senate voted without any debate Tuesday to pass the plan, which largely mirrors what the Assembly unanimously approved last month.

The Assembly was expected to concur with the Senate's plan on Thursday, a vote that would send the bill to Gov. Scott Walker.

Walker had urged the Legislature to pass a juvenile justice plan before adjourning for the year. The proposal would put the most serious offenders under control of the state and other juveniles would be housed in county-run facilities.

Federal investigators have been looking into allegations of inmate abuse by guards at the Lincoln Hills prison for three years.

The  Senate also approved a $100 per-child tax credit and a sales tax holiday the first weekend in August.

The Senate approved the bill 17-15 Tuesday. It is a priority of Gov. Scott Walker.

Approving the sales tax holiday was a reversal for Senate Republicans who had been publicly critical of that, deriding it as a gimmick.

The sales tax would be waived on pieces of clothing costing less than $75, a computer costing less than $750, computer supplies costing less than $250 and school supplies costing no more than $75.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says what will reduce the cost from $50 million to $12 million.

The Assembly was expected to vote Thursday on approving the scaled-back version of the bill after it previously passed the original proposal.

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