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Juvenile Home / Girls Training School gas tax, gun concerns aired at Sodders’ Listening Post

February 25, 2015
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

An earful about the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo topped local residents comments heard by State Senator Steve Sodders (D-State Center) on Friday in Tama. Souders hosted his second Listening Post of 2015 legislative session for constituents at the Tama Public Library at noon.

The comments critical of the closing came on the eve of the Iowa Supreme Court consideration of the issue at a hearing in Des Moines last night, Feb. 24.

The feelings fall in with Sodders position: He is one of three legislators along with Danny Homan, the president of the Iowa Association of State County and Municipal Workers Union who filed the suit challenging Gov. Terry Branstad and Human Service Director Charles Palmer's authority to close the facility in January, 2014.

Article Photos

State Senator Steve Sodders (center) hears from Tama attorney Allan Richards (left) during a Listening Post at the Tama Public Library during the Friday, Feb. 20, noon hour. Richards urged continued support for the Lincoln Highway Bridge Park efforts in Tama.
Chronicle/John Speer

Sodders previously acknowledged the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School in Girls in Toledo would likely not reopen whatever the Supreme Court ultimately rules.

Marlene Werner, Tama, said she believes the governor "violated his constitutional powers and he has already scuttled it." She questioned the fate of delinquent girls who were at the facility at the time and those possibly without services since then.

Werner served 10 years on the Iowa Juvenile Home Advisory Committee, she said.

Sodders said he has learned eight girls have been placed out of state and at least 40 girls have had their cases transferred directly to adult court since the closing.

Werner also questioned the $500,000 being spent annually for a private security fund to guard the campus and the award of a contract to maintain the 27-acre campus to an out-of-county landscape firm.

Gas Tax

Sodders said his previous position supporting a 10 cent-a-gallon fuel tax increase has softened. He said prohibiting counties and cities to bond for payments has been added to the measure among other items. He predicted the raise remains "up in the air" and said he didn't believe it had enough support to be passed yet.

Inheritance Tax

Harold Woodworth, Tama, asked Sodders to support a change in Iowa inheritance tax law. Currently, he said, the law calls for a 15 percent estate tax to be paid for heirs including nieces and nephews. He characterized this as unfair, particularly in cases where there aren't other heirs.

Stand Your Ground Legislation

Sodders was asked by one person attending to explain his position opposing legislation which would expand Iowa's current law on use of self defense. Sodders called the legislation, Senate File 137, dubbed "Stand Your Ground" as "bad policy."

He cited a provision prohibiting lawsuits if someone hits anyone or anything while acting in self-defense as an example.

Sodders also expressed his "distrust" of Aaron Dorr, leader of the Iowa Gun Owners Association, whom is actively supporting the legislation.

Sodders said existing law already is in place to back citizens who defend themselves. He said he is "pro-gun" and said he is currently working with the National Rifle Association on legislation. Souders is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

School Start Date

Iowa schools will not be able to begin classes until Aug. 23 under a law making progress in the Legislature, Souders said. He said he believes the start date should be a decision left ot local school boards and he may not support the Aug. 23 date.


Senator Souders said he has introduced legislation to change the classification of simple possession of marijuana charges which lessens the offense. He said this move would free up jail space for use for those convicted of more serious crimes.



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