A state senator is threatening to keep the Iowa legislature in session until Governor Terry Branstad’s administration answers more questions about teens who were in the now-closed Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo and delinquent teenagers who would be sent there by the courts if the facility were still open. State Senator Steve Sodders, a Democrat from State Center, represents the Toledo area.
“Governor Branstad’s abrupt decision to close the Iowa Juvenile Home created a number of problems,” Sodders says. “It is the Legislature’s job to help solve those problems.”
Sodders says the legislature’s ability to act has been stymied because the Branstad Administration has failed to turn over documents that were requested on January 15.
“We need some information. We’ve asked for the information and we haven’t gotten a response yet,” Sodders says. “Specifically, we need to know what Governor Branstad and his administration have done, are doing and are planning to do regarding this issue. We’ve heard nothing.”
Sodders, who also is a deputy sheriff in Marshall County, suggested the legislature is considering legal action to get the Branstad Administration to respond to its request for records.
“We need this information to address a serious issue because the session won’t end until we reach some sort of an agreement on what we do with these youth of Iowa,” Sodders says.
In a written statement, a spokesman for the governor noted Sodders is one of the legislators suing to keep the facility open.
“Due to the nature of the senator’s request, the type of information requested and the ongoing litigation, DHS and the Attorney General’s office have been carefully reviewing the information,” Jimmy Centers, a spokesman for Branstad, said. “Senator Sodders and Senate Democrats should expect to hear a response soon from our lawyer in the matter, Attorney General Tom Miller.”
Miller is a Democrat.
The Democratically-led Senate has passed a bill that does not call for re-opening the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo, but does call for some sort of state-run facility for delinquent girls. Governor Branstad has said private facilities are capable of caring for the delinquent teenage girls who’s committed crimes and who often are a danger to themselves and others.