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Youth gun age limits to IJH among items at Sodder’s Listening Post

March 17, 2016
By Allison Graham - The Chronicle ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

A hot button issue that has been all over headlines the past two weeks is the issue of youth age limits for gun usage. This was just one of the issues discussed by Iowa State Senator Steve Sodders (D-State Center) at a Listening Post on Friday at the Tama Public Library.

Iowans may not have even been aware that a law existed that made it a felony for a child under the age of 14 to use a handgun.

Johnston resident Nathan Gibson raised concerns over the House File 2281 Youth safety and Parental Rights Act. This bill is in regards to the age limit for allowing youth to use handguns. Gibson asked Sodders to inform constituents on what happened with the bill.

Article Photos

State Senator Steve Sodders (D-State Center) responds to a question during a Listening Post at the Tama Public Library on Friday, March 11.
Chronicle/Allison Graham

"I told them not to send me a zero bill," replied Sodders, "if they had sent me a bill with an age limit on it we probably could have passed the bill.

Sodders went on to state, "At this point when we get pressed for toddler militia on Comedy Central and we are in the Chinese papers for a toddler militia, that sours some people on trying to vote on something like that."

Sodders also made reference to a story out of Florida last week about a gun advocate who allowed her four-year-old to shoot all the time. That mother allegedly left her weapon in the trunk of her vehicle and her four year old son shot her in the back.

"That's part of the problem when you come in with a zero bill," said Sodders, "most parents are doing what's right, they're not letting a three year old shoot a shot gun or handle a hand gun or anything."

The history of the age limit according to Sodders has gone from 21 years old, down to 18, and now 14. "We could have taken a step and I tried to get it to 10," said Sodders.

We're working with folks," said Sodders."We've talked with them about target shooting, competition shooting, some kids aren't going out for soccer anymore they are wanting to target shoot, so what age do we start them at, how do we get them involved in the sport and do it safely."


Sodders spoke briefly on the former Iowa Juvenile Home property but did not have anything new to report. The IJH was shuttered over two years ago. Since that time the State has budgeted for electricity and heat to keep the empty buildings in shape. Governor Branstad also recently hired a consulting firm to work on ideas for IJH along with other vacant State facilities in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant.

Using the grounds for housing development has been just one of the ideas presented for the IJH property. With the opening of Iowa Premium, affordable, quality housing has been an on going need for the Tama-Toledo community. Sodders revealed at the Listening Post that the Meskwaki Tribe's economic arm would be building housing in Marshalltown.

Another idea that has floated around is the suggestion to use the IJH for a nursing hospital. That idea, according to Sodders, would be an unlikely solution since the nursing hospital in Marshalltown is not even at a capacity.

Sodders threw out the suggestion of Marshalltown Community College using the property as a satellite campus. Sodders spoke with Toledo councilman Steve Vesley who was present at the listening post to arrange a meeting with Dr. Chris Duree, Iowa Valley Community College District Chancellor.

Tax Coupling

Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate that would couple Iowa's tax code with the federal tax changes for 2015, bringing tax relief to Iowa farmers, small business owners, teachers, and others.

The legislation updates the Iowa Internal Revenue Code to couple with federal tax law changes. Some of these changes to the state tax law for tax year 2015 included extensions such as: the deduction of up to $250 for out-of-pocket expenses by teachers, up to $4,000 tuition and fees deduction for higher education expenses, the choice to deduct state sales and use taxes in lieu of the standard deduction, some tax-free IRA contributions to eligible charities, allowing small businesses to expense, rather than depreciate the first $500,000 of equipment costs, premiums for mortgage insurance deductibles as qualified resident interest, enhanced charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory, basis adjustment to stock of S corporations making charitable contributions.

Sodders said that he anticipated this bill to pass this week.

Parental Rights

Matt Hickok, a divorced father of five children, raised issue with House File 2372, which deals with parental rights. Currently the law tends to favor the mother's rights in terms of custody. Hickok would like to see those laws further examined and is looking to Sodders for a commitment to work with fathers to expand their custody rights.



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