Statehouse and Politics http://iowapublicradio.org en Tax Hike for Environment Advances http://iowapublicradio.org/post/tax-hike-environment-advances <p>Democrats in the Iowa Senate &nbsp;got the ball rolling on a bill that’s a dream come true for&nbsp; environmentalists&nbsp; and natural resource advocates.&nbsp;&nbsp; The bill raises the state&nbsp; sales tax for a natural resources trust fund that voters approved by constitutional amendment two years ago. &nbsp;Backers added a tax <u>cut</u>​&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">to the bill to soften the blow. &nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p><p></p> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:23:15 +0000 Joyce Russell 39200 at http://iowapublicradio.org Tax Hike for Environment Advances Administrators Grilled Over Secret Payments http://iowapublicradio.org/post/administrators-grilled-over-secret-payments <p>The Iowa legislature’s oversight committee questioned top administrators at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services over payments made to laid-off state workers for keeping their settlements with the state confidential.&nbsp;&nbsp; But lawmakers still don't know where the authorization for the so-called hush money came from.</p><p></p> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:02:39 +0000 Joyce Russell 39149 at http://iowapublicradio.org Administrators Grilled Over Secret Payments Food Aid Turned Down by Legislature http://iowapublicradio.org/post/food-aid-turned-down-legislature <p>In a procedural vote, the Iowa House <u>turned down</u> a million dollar appropriation to match private donations to Iowa’s food banks.&nbsp;&nbsp; The legislature <u>passed</u> a similar measure last year, but Governor Branstad vetoed it.&nbsp;&nbsp; One House Democrat spoke with unusual authority.&nbsp;&nbsp; Representative Ako&nbsp;Abdul-Samaad&nbsp; of Des Moines runs a soup kitchen as part of the Creative Visions social service agency he heads.&nbsp; Here are some of his remarks.</p><p></p> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 02:18:40 +0000 Joyce Russell 38960 at http://iowapublicradio.org Food Aid Turned Down by Legislature Tuition Freeze Deal Threatened http://iowapublicradio.org/post/tuition-freeze-deal-threatened <p>In the Iowa House, the wheels fell off an agreement to <u>freeze tuition</u> for another year at Iowa’s Regents Universities, but only if all three schools get&nbsp; a 4% increase in state funds.&nbsp;&nbsp; Republicans have agreed to mandate the&nbsp; freeze,&nbsp; but not all the schools will get their promised raise. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p></p> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 02:09:56 +0000 Joyce Russell 38959 at http://iowapublicradio.org Tuition Freeze Deal Threatened Medical Marijuana Bill Gains Momentum in Statehouse http://iowapublicradio.org/post/medical-marijuana-bill-gains-momentum-statehouse <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>A bill allowing Iowans to use medical marijuana in the form of cannabis oil is still alive at the statehouse. The Iowa Senate will move a medical marijuana bill before the end of the session. &nbsp;</p> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 21:50:17 +0000 Clay Masters 38953 at http://iowapublicradio.org Medical Marijuana Bill Gains Momentum in Statehouse Branstad on Settlements, Medical Marijuana http://iowapublicradio.org/post/branstad-settlements-medical-marijuana <p>Despite predictions for a speedy session in which nothing of substance was accomplished, the 2014 legislative session has had plenty of controversy.&nbsp; <a href="http://iowapublicradio.org/post/branstad-medical-cannabis-juvenile-home-and-secret-settlements">Governor Terry Branstad was a guest on IPR’s River to River on Monday.</a></p> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 11:35:04 +0000 Clay Masters 38774 at http://iowapublicradio.org Branstad on Settlements, Medical Marijuana Debate over Confidential Settlements to State Workers Continues http://iowapublicradio.org/post/debate-over-confidential-settlements-state-workers-continues <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p></p> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:12:20 +0000 Clay Masters & Joyce Russell 38724 at http://iowapublicradio.org Debate over Confidential Settlements to State Workers Continues Fired Workers Tell Their Stories http://iowapublicradio.org/post/fired-workers-tell-their-stories <p>Democrats in the Iowa Senate &nbsp;heard from four former state employees who lost their jobs in what the Branstad&nbsp; administration terms&nbsp; a reorganization of state government.&nbsp;&nbsp; Democrats object to what they call mass layoffs of so-called merit employees who were hired for their expertise, not their political connections.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; One worker&nbsp; told of receiving money for keeping her settlement private,&nbsp; a practice which&nbsp; Governor Branstad has now banned. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p></p> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 14:25:10 +0000 Joyce Russell 38557 at http://iowapublicradio.org Fired Workers Tell Their Stories New Iowa GOP Chairman on Uniting Party http://iowapublicradio.org/post/new-iowa-gop-chairman-uniting-party <p></p><p>The Iowa Republican party has a new chairman. Former chair A.J. Spiker announced his resignation last month, he left to join Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s political action committee. Over the weekend the Iowa GOP Board elected former state legislator and lobbyist for social conservative organization The Family&nbsp;Leader, Danny Carroll. He shares his thoughts on several issues with IPR's Clay Masters.</p> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 12:35:57 +0000 Clay Masters 38494 at http://iowapublicradio.org New Iowa GOP Chairman on Uniting Party Price Tag for Bullying Bill Debated http://iowapublicradio.org/post/price-tag-bullying-bill-debated <p>A bill on Governor Branstad’s to-do list is sparking controversy&nbsp; at the statehouse.&nbsp; The bill addresses the problem of bullying in the schools,&nbsp; especially as it occurs on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; But how much money to spend on the&nbsp; problem remains a stumbling block.&nbsp;&nbsp; Also,&nbsp; a coalition of&nbsp; conservative House Republicans has its&nbsp; own ideas. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p></p> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 22:26:06 +0000 Joyce Russell 38475 at http://iowapublicradio.org Price Tag for Bullying Bill Debated Confidential Settlements Still Front and Center at Iowa Statehouse http://iowapublicradio.org/post/confidential-settlements-still-front-and-center-iowa-statehouse <p></p><p></p><p></p><p>The issue of the Branstad&nbsp;administration's confidential settlements with laid-off state workers still seems to be front and center at the capitol. As much as $400,000 &nbsp;was given out to fired workers. That doesn't show up on any budgets or balance sheets. The governor for his part has outlawed such settlements. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to discuss where things stand with the settlements and other issues up for discussion in the legislature this week.&nbsp;</p> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 13:53:11 +0000 Clay Masters & Joyce Russell 38372 at http://iowapublicradio.org Confidential Settlements Still Front and Center at Iowa Statehouse Senator McCaskill is ISU’s Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics http://iowapublicradio.org/post/senator-mccaskill-isu-s-mary-louise-smith-chair-women-and-politics <p>There are 20 women now serving in the U.S. Senate including Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri. She is this semester’s Iowa State University Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics where Friday she delivered a lecture on the Ames campus. Fri, 28 Mar 2014 22:36:14 +0000 Joyce Russell 38293 at http://iowapublicradio.org Senator McCaskill is ISU’s Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics Greyhound Industry Fights Racetrack Bill http://iowapublicradio.org/post/greyhound-industry-fights-racetrack-bill <p>A three-member panel at the statehouse signed off on a &nbsp;bill to end greyhound racing at casinos in Council Bluffs and Dubuque.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The casinos and the communities where they’re located say dog racing is a dying sport.&nbsp; But the greyhound industry is putting up a good fight. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 21:51:38 +0000 Joyce Russell 38172 at http://iowapublicradio.org Greyhound Industry Fights Racetrack Bill Sen. John Culver Reflects on Bipartisanship of Congress http://iowapublicradio.org/post/sen-john-culver-reflects-bipartisanship-congress <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Former Democratic U.S. Senator John Culver served 16 years in Congress. He now lives in Washington D.C., but he’ll be back in Iowa later this week to visit the Culver Public Policy Center at Simpson College in&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Indianola</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">.</span>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 12:56:18 +0000 Clay Masters 38079 at http://iowapublicradio.org Sen. John Culver Reflects on Bipartisanship of Congress Appropriations to Address Shortage of State Troopers http://iowapublicradio.org/post/appropriations-address-shortage-state-troopers <p>Cuts to the Department of Public Safety during the recession have left some Iowa counties without a single state trooper in residence. Now, the shortage may be alleviated under a justice system budget bill at the Statehouse.&nbsp;</p><p>Under the bill, the Department of Public Safety would receive about $6 million to hire 33 new troopers. Representative Gary Worthan (R-Storm Lake) says in the overnight hours, there are as few as 6 patrol officers on duty in the entire state.</p> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 14:48:21 +0000 Joyce Russell 38018 at http://iowapublicradio.org Anti-Bullying and Rural Broadband Bills on Rocky Ground http://iowapublicradio.org/post/anti-bullying-and-rural-broadband-bills-rocky-ground <p></p><p>There are a number of signs that things are wrapping up much earlier this year at the Iowa statehouse. Republican and Democratic Leaders in the House and Senate say they are well ahead of schedule and there’s a few issues shaking out that will likely be fodder in 2014 campaigns.</p> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 11:50:14 +0000 Clay Masters & Joyce Russell 38014 at http://iowapublicradio.org Anti-Bullying and Rural Broadband Bills on Rocky Ground Investigating Iowa's Secret Settlements http://iowapublicradio.org/post/investigating-iowas-secret-settlements <p></p><p>A recent investigative report by the Des Moines Register uncovered secret settlements made by the state to fired state workers. Those ex-staffers say they were let go because of their ties to Democrats.&nbsp;</p> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 11:25:58 +0000 Clay Masters 37892 at http://iowapublicradio.org Investigating Iowa's Secret Settlements Democrats To Investigate anti-Branstad claims http://iowapublicradio.org/post/democrats-investigate-anti-branstad-claims <p>Statehouse Democrats say the legislature's oversight committee will be very busy in the coming weeks, as they look into recent allegations against &nbsp;the Terry Branstad &nbsp;administration.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; They say the panel will first look into reports of secret settlements to fired state workers. &nbsp;</p><p></p><p></p> Thu, 20 Mar 2014 20:24:12 +0000 Joyce Russell 37863 at http://iowapublicradio.org Democrats To Investigate anti-Branstad claims Lawmakers Funnel More Bills Forward with Primary Election Looming http://iowapublicradio.org/post/lawmakers-funnel-more-bills-forward-primary-election-looming <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Last week was another deadline at the Iowa statehouse for lawmakers to get more laws through committee so they can be debated on the floor.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Mon, 17 Mar 2014 13:37:57 +0000 Clay Masters & Joyce Russell 37669 at http://iowapublicradio.org Lawmakers Funnel More Bills Forward with Primary Election Looming Lawmakers talk Bullying, Budgets, Minimum Wage http://iowapublicradio.org/post/lawmakers-talk-bullying-budgets-minimum-wage <p></p><p>Many were anticipating budget targets last week, Democrats who control the Senate and Republicans who control the House, have come to some kind of an agreement or a launching point. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to preview the week ahead at the capitol. &nbsp;</p> Mon, 10 Mar 2014 13:27:35 +0000 Clay Masters & Joyce Russell 37312 at http://iowapublicradio.org Lawmakers talk Bullying, Budgets, Minimum Wage Wage Theft Crackdown Approved http://iowapublicradio.org/post/wage-theft-crackdown-approved <p>On a strict party-line vote, the Iowa Senate &nbsp;approved legislation backers &nbsp;say will help crack down on employers who stiff workers for their wages.&nbsp;&nbsp; Lawmakers say they hear often from immigrant workers in particular in construction and other industries who say they did the work for contractors but didn’t get paid.&nbsp;&nbsp; Some employers tell a different story.</p><p></p> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 15:17:50 +0000 Joyce Russell 37109 at http://iowapublicradio.org Wage Theft Crackdown Approved Iowa Lawmakers Expect Early Legislative Adjournment http://iowapublicradio.org/post/iowa-lawmakers-expect-early-legislative-adjournment <p></p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The Iowa legislative calendar has the last day of the 2014 session falling late next month. Last week Senate Majority Leader Mike&nbsp;</span>Gronstal<span style="line-height: 1.5;">, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, said Iowa Republicans and Democrats have gotten better working together.</span></p> Mon, 03 Mar 2014 12:25:18 +0000 Clay Masters & Joyce Russell 36994 at http://iowapublicradio.org Iowa Lawmakers Expect Early Legislative Adjournment Parties Spar Over Juvenile Home Bill http://iowapublicradio.org/post/parties-spar-over-juvenile-home-bill <p>On a strict party line vote, the Iowa Senate &nbsp;approved a Democratic bill calling for a facility for delinquent girls in Iowa comparable to the boy’s facility in Eldora.&nbsp; But &nbsp;Republicans say a state-run institution &nbsp;isn’t necessary, and the private sector can fill the need. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p></p> Thu, 27 Feb 2014 23:08:01 +0000 Joyce Russell 36898 at http://iowapublicradio.org Parties Spar Over Juvenile Home Bill Borlaug Statue Unveiling Planned http://iowapublicradio.org/post/borlaug-statue-unveiling-planned <p>The date’s now &nbsp;set for the &nbsp;unveiling of a new statue to represent Iowa in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. &nbsp;It’s a &nbsp;likeness of famed Iowa agricultural &nbsp;scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner &nbsp;Norman Borlaug. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The March 25<sup>th</sup> ceremony in Washington is just one part of&nbsp; a lavish observance of the centennial of Borlaug’s birth. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p></p><p></p> Wed, 26 Feb 2014 22:28:19 +0000 Joyce Russell 36840 at http://iowapublicradio.org Borlaug Statue Unveiling Planned Iowa Lawmakers Push Forward At Least 100 Bills http://iowapublicradio.org/post/iowa-lawmakers-push-forward-least-100-bills <p></p><p>Last week was funnel week at the Iowa Capitol, a time when lawmakers need to get their priority bills out of committee and into either the Iowa House or Senate. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to talk about the week ahead in the legislature. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> Mon, 24 Feb 2014 14:41:32 +0000 Clay Masters & Joyce Russell 36698 at http://iowapublicradio.org Iowa Lawmakers Push Forward At Least 100 Bills Democrats Target Wellmark Reserves http://iowapublicradio.org/post/democrats-target-wellmark-reserves <p>On a strict party-line vote, a committee in the Iowa Senate today addressed&nbsp; what they say may be&nbsp; excessive reserves&nbsp; at the state’s leading health insurance company.&nbsp;&nbsp; The bill would give the state insurance commissioner authority to order Wellmark to give profits back to consumers depending on the results of an audit of the company’s bottom line.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; An earlier audit showed the company’s reserves might be <u>too low</u>. &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Thu, 20 Feb 2014 23:12:56 +0000 Joyce Russell 36550 at http://iowapublicradio.org Democrats Target Wellmark Reserves Cellphone Insurance Bill Stalls http://iowapublicradio.org/post/cellphone-insurance-bill-stalls <p>At the statehouse &nbsp;the wheels fell off an 11<sup>th</sup> hour compromise to regulate the sale of cellphone insurance.&nbsp;&nbsp; Some retailers offer it when you sign up for a cellphone plan.&nbsp;&nbsp; But&nbsp; store&nbsp; clerks&nbsp; aren’t required to be licensed to sell it. &nbsp; &nbsp; A bill to change that set off an industry battle. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p></p> Thu, 20 Feb 2014 01:40:08 +0000 Joyce Russell 36516 at http://iowapublicradio.org Cellphone Insurance Bill Stalls Expanding Broadband, Preventing Bullying: Bills Likely to Advance http://iowapublicradio.org/post/expanding-broadband-preventing-bullying-bills-likely-advance <p></p> Mon, 17 Feb 2014 13:50:34 +0000 Clay Masters & Joyce Russell 36384 at http://iowapublicradio.org Expanding Broadband, Preventing Bullying: Bills Likely to Advance Lawmakers Question NASCAR Subsidy http://iowapublicradio.org/post/lawmakers-question-nascar-subsidy <p>Officials with NASCAR, the new owner of the Iowa Speedway, are asking state lawmakers for an extended tax rebate to, in their words, offer&nbsp; more events at the Newton track.&nbsp; Some state lawmakers are questioning whether a&nbsp; wealthy organization like NASCAR needs an 8 million dollar tax break.</p><p></p> Fri, 14 Feb 2014 15:52:54 +0000 Joyce Russell 36277 at http://iowapublicradio.org Lawmakers Question NASCAR Subsidy Grieving Couple Advocates for Child Care Bill http://iowapublicradio.org/post/grieving-couple-advocates-child-care-bill <p>A couple from Adel brought tearful testimony to the statehouse. &nbsp; &nbsp;Their&nbsp; infant daughter died as a result of her care at an in-home child care provider.&nbsp;&nbsp; A Republican-sponsored bill would require more in-home day cares to register with the state. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p></p> Thu, 13 Feb 2014 11:53:29 +0000 Joyce Russell 36212 at http://iowapublicradio.org Grieving Couple Advocates for Child Care Bill