State News

Fitzgerald remains skeptical of Lincoln Hills reform

After Lincoln Hills reform unanimously passed the Assembly, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said it likely won’t pass the Senate with the same ease.

Image By: Emily Buck and Emily Buck

A state GOP leader is pumping the brakes on a prison reform bill, despite the measure’s bipartisan support and backing from Gov. Scott Walker.

After a break in session, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, remains skeptical of the Assembly’s $80 million proposal to restructure the youth prison system and facilities in the state, particularly at the Lincoln Hills site.

“The bill is not ready for primetime,” Fitzgerald said Wednesday.

Fitzgerald voiced his concern over the rapid nature of the bill’s development, calling the process of drafting the bill “horrendous.”

The bill did not go before the finance committee and was instead discussed by the corrections committee. Fitzgerald called this action “concerning” and emphasized the need for a review by the committee for the bill to receive his support.

The Majority Leader added he is concerned that the “right people” were not in the room during the bill’s inception and subsequent legislative process.

This opposition comes after unanimous passage of the Assembly version of the bill and support from Gov. Scott Walker.

Walker said he remains confident the bill will “pass overwhelmingly in the Senate.”

The bill was proposed Feb. 13 and has since gone through a public hearing, an Assembly committee vote, informal testimony in the Senate and an official vote in the Assembly.

“We're going to end up [passing the legislation] next session anyway,” said Majority House Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, at the end of the last legislative session.

The Senate will hold its final session and vote of the legislative period March 20 while the Assembly has concluded its work for this legislative period.

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