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Senate approves plan for juvenile facility

Published: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 10:39 a.m. CDT

DES MOINES (AP) — A plan to develop a state-run facility for delinquent girls narrowly cleared the Iowa Senate Thursday, but the odds of the measure receiving bipartisan support moving forward are unclear.

The Senate approved the bill in a party-line vote, with 26 Democrats in favor and 22 Republicans opposed. The legislation now goes to the House, where it could face Republican opposition.

The bill comes in response to Gov. Terry Branstad’s closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home on Jan. 15. It was originally drafted with the intent of reopening the home, but now just says a state-run center for delinquent girls is needed as soon as possible.

“Today we should focus on doing right by these girls,” said Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, who sponsored the bill.

Branstad, who closed the home following allegations that teens were improperly treated and educated at the facility, has opposed the legislation since it was proposed. An investigation by the advocacy group Disability Rights Iowa and stories by The Des Moines Register brought the mistreatment to light.

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, has said Republicans in the House remain focused on doing what’s in the best interest of the girls affected by the closure.

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