Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a statehouse and political correspondent in 2012 and started hosting IPR’s Morning Edition in 2014. Clay is an award-winning multi-media journalist whose radio stories have been heard on various NPR and American Public Media programs.

He was one of the founding reporters of Harvest Public Media, the regional journalism consortium covering agriculture and food production in the Midwest. He was based in Nebraska where he worked for Nebraska’s statewide public radio and television network. 

Clay continues to report on a wide variety of topics including politics, health and the environment. He’s also a regular music contributor to NPR’s arts desk.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

Ways To Connect

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Clay Masters conducted this interview with Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley Friday, July 24th. Below is a partially transcribed interview.

M: How do you feel you're getting your name out there? Do you like feel you're connecting more, the more time you spend here?

Clay Masters / IPR

Plenty of presidential candidates campaigned in the state this weekend. They were in town for two major party events. There was the Family Leadership Summit in Ames on Saturday which attracts evangelical Republicans. And the state Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame Dinner was in Cedar Rapids on Friday.

Clay Masters / IPR

A new group, called Latino Political Network, aimed at increasing the number of Latinos running for elected office in Iowa holds its first meeting. Currently there are no Latino members of the Iowa legislature and this group wants to change that.

The organization was modeled after a similar Iowa group called 50/50 in 2020 that encourages women to run for elected office.

Clay Masters / IPR

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was campaigning in Iowa Wednesday, two days after announcing he's running for the Republican party nomination for president. 

His campaign chose small towns for town-hall style meetings. In Washington, Iowa he took questions from the press including one about Pope Francis’ view that a revolution is needed to combat climate change.

Todd Dorman / The Gazette

Republican Party of Iowa leadership Friday morning voted unanimously to cancel the 2015 Iowa Straw Poll. 

The event, which had been scheduled for August 8 in Boone, had drawn commitments from only two Republican presidential hopefuls. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had already announced their intentions to skip the event, which included a presidential preference vote. 

"We set the table and the candidates weren't coming to supper," says Iowa Republican Party Chair Jeff Kaufmann.

Clay Masters / IPR

Around the start of the new millennium, the eyes of the nation turned to Omaha, Neb., and bands like Bright Eyes and its label Saddle Creek Records. As it often does, the spotlight has flickered elsewhere in the search of what's next. But Omaha's music scene is still going strong: there are a number of new albums coming out this year with ties to the Midwestern city.

John Pemble / IPR

State lawmakers have gone home for the legislative session. It was another year of Republicans controlling the Iowa House and Democrats leading the Iowa Senate. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checks in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell one last time about the lengthy legislative session. 

Clay Masters / IPR

A herd of Republican presidential candidates spent some time in Iowa farm country this weekend. They were there for a fundraiser called Roast and Ride, a motorcycle ride and barbecue organized by Republican Sen. Joni Ernst.

Ernst, a political newcomer, is making herself a force in presidential politics.

Clay Masters / IPR

Every four years, politicians and the reporters who cover them spend months in Iowa wooing voters ahead of the February caucuses. There's inevitably lots of photo ops with grain silos and corn fields in the background, not to mention interviews with weathered farmers who are supposed to stand in for the state's two million registered voters.

John Pemble/IPR

UPDATE:  6/1/2015 3:00 p.m. House Republicans and Senate Democrats released more details of the budget agreement reached last week.

JOINT TARGETS FY16

Clay Masters / IPR

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced he’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination Saturday in Baltimore.

“So let me ask a question of Des Moines, Iowa,” shouted without a microphone to the packed crowd in a small campaign office just outside downtown Des Moines. “Are you ready to take your country forward!?”

O’Malley was once mayor of Baltimore; where recently the police killing of Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man lead to riots. O’Malley says as mayor he drove police shootings down and improved community and police relations.

Clay Masters / IPR

Coventry Health Care is currently the only health insurance provider offering subsidized coverage through the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act in Iowa. The Urbandale-based company says it wants to raise rates to its customers by at least 18 percent.

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart says Coventry likely took on more risk than they projected. He predicts rates will rise for current policyholders who have purchased the subsidized coverage through Healthcare.gov

Photo Courtesy of Rick Fredericksen

The Iowa Public Radio series Iowa Archives turns 8 this year and the project's producer, IPR's Rick Fredericksen, has tapped a lot of what's readily available and he's asking listeners for any old sound they might have. Fredericksen recaps some of Iowa Archive's highlights with Morning Edition Host Clay Masters. 

Fredericksen will host an hour special featuring the best of Iowa Archives music on Memorial Day at 10 a.m.  

If you have some audio Rick might find interesting, e-mail him at rfredericksen@iowapublicradio.org.

Photo by John Pemble

State lawmakers return to the capitol today for their third week of overtime, while the two parties remain divided over the state budget for the fiscal year that starts in July. 

Most of the work this week will be behind closed doors as the House, the Senate, and the Governor’s office strive toward a budget agreement. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R- Hiawatha) says House Republicans have not signed on to a tentative agreement on funding for K-12 schools.

John Pemble / IPR

The Annual Iowa Republican Lincoln Dinner is Saturday and with it comes another cattle call of Republican presidential hopefuls. IPR Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talks with Associated Press Politics and State Government Reporter Catherine Lucey about how this event differs from other Republican presidential gatherings in recent months. They also discuss Democratic presidential candidate and front-runner Hillary Clinton's upcoming trip to the state.

John Pemble / IPR

Week after week it’s looked like no compromise was in sight between the state’s Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican majority House over K-12 funding, but a tentative agreement looks promising that lawmakers have figured out how much to fund schools for the coming year. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to preview the week ahead at the Iowa capitol. 

Clay Masters / IPR

Recently announced Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is campaigning in Iowa Thursday. She’s one of a number of GOP candidates who have officially announced they’re running for president this week to swing through the first-in-the-nation caucus state. 

Former Arkansas Governor and winner of the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses Mike Huckabee wrapped up an early swing through the state on Wednesday night in a barn at Living History Farms in Urbandale.

Photo by John Pemble

  

Legislators remain at odds over the main function of the Iowa General Assembly -- coming up with a state spending plan. For example, the two parties have been wrangling since January over how much state aid to forward to Iowa's public schools for the school year that begins in August

Photo Courtesy of the artist

Rocky Votolato is a Seattle Washington-based Singer and Songwriter. He got his start in music more than twenty years ago in a punk band with his brother Wax Wing. After it disbanded he started performing solo. He took a break from writing and his latest record, “Hospital Handshakes,” has a similar sound to his old material. 

A couple years ago Votolato thought he was done with music. He wasn’t very proud of his last record, Television of Saints, and he decided to get a job; that ultimately didn’t work.

John Pemble / IPR

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s oral arguments this week over same-sex marriage, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst says she hopes the high court rules in favor of giving states the right to determine who can marry.

The topic of same-sex marriage came up last weekend when nine GOP presidential hopefuls made stump speeches at a church in Waukee. The freshman Iowa Republican says she didn’t hear all of the candidates this weekend but she says she is holding her position that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

John Pemble / IPR

    

Clay Masters / IPR

Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio made his first appearance in Iowa after officially announcing he's running for his party's nomination. He was one of nine Republican Presidential hopefuls who spoke at a church in Waukee, a suburb of Des Moines, on Saturday evening. 

Clay Masters / IPR

Governor Terry Branstad’s plan to privatize parts of the state’s Medicaid system is moving forward. Medicaid is the healthcare program for low income Iowans; that represents $4.2 billion in state and federal spending.

John Pemble / IPR

Democrats who control the Iowa Senate and Republicans who control the Iowa House are at still at odds over their budget targets. But there has been a little bit of movement. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checks in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to talk about this little bit of movement and about other issues before the statehouse in the coming week. 

Clay Masters / IPR

  The state’s largest water utility is restarting its nitrate removal equipment because levels of the pollutant are spiking in the rivers Des Moines uses for drinking water. 

The Des Moines Water Works recently sued three northwest Iowa counties (Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties) saying water from agricultural drainage districts contributes to the high level of nitrates. 

Photo by Clay Masters

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finished her brief two-day swing through Iowa today with a roundtable discussion with small business owners just outside Des Moines. Clinton is the only major Democratic presidential candidate to announce she’s seeking her party’s nomination. 

Journalists far outnumbered the handful of small business owners at this roundtable at Capital City Fruit in Norwalk. After a stop at a community college the day before, Clinton turned her attention to the job world.

Phil Romans / Flickr

Current Iowa law requires absentee ballots to be postmarked by the day before the election and received by noon on the following Monday. But what if the ballots aren't postmarked at all?

That's the question facing Iowa lawmakers. Some ballots aren't being postmarked and thus aren't being counted by county auditors. Wapello County was sued in 2010 over absentee ballots. County Auditor Kelly Spurgeon says the problem originates at the post office.

John Pemble / IPR

    

Republicans who control the Iowa House and Democrats who control the Iowa Senate continue to be pretty far apart when it comes to state aid for school funding.  Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checks in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the difference in opinions of the two chambers and discusses a number of other issues facing the legislature in the week ahead. 

Clay Masters / IPR

It’s that time of year when Midwest farmers are preparing to plant their crops. This year though more may be thinking about the water in their fields, that’s because a lawsuit by Iowa’s largest water utility is targeting the nitrates farms send downstream and polluting the Des Moines metro's drinking water sources. Local governments and big agriculture interest groups alike are now watching this lawsuit.

John Pemble / IPR

Last week was the second self-imposed deadline for the Iowa legislature to get bills through committee. That means if they didn’t clear committee on Friday… they’re dead for the year. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about what died and what's left for Iowa lawmakers to debate. 

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