Joyce Russell

Correspondent

Joyce Russell is a correspondent based at the Iowa Statehouse. Joyce has been covering the Iowa Statehouse since shortly after joining the news staff at WOI Radio in 1988. Her earlier broadcasting experience included news reporting at commercial stations in Oklahoma City and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Joyce’s reports can be heard on National Public Radio and American Public Media programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Marketplace.  She covered the last six Iowa caucus campaigns and interviewed numerous candidates for president, including some who went on to attain the highest office in the land.   

Joyce  has a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Louis University and  a master’s degree in English from the University of Oklahoma.   

Joyce’s favorite public radio program is Fresh Air.

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Absentee Ballots
4:38 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Top GOP Vote Absentee

Photo by Brendan C

Some top Republicans are getting involved in the party’s early voting campaign as the GOP strives to compete with Democrats on absentee ballots.   

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1-K Walk
4:49 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Branstad: 1-K is a Start

Photo by Peter Thoeny

Organizers of the Branstad administration’s fourth annual 1-K walk say they expect as many as half a million people to participate. 

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Bullying Forum
3:33 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Student: Use Facebook Safely

Photo by Joyce Russell

A series of town hall meetings addressing the problem of bullying in schools wrapped up  in Marshalltown.  

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Statehouse and Politics
12:27 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Branstad: California is Dead Wrong

Governor Branstad Monday reacted with anger to a federal judge’s ruling affecting egg production in Iowa and five other states.  The judge threw out a lawsuit challenging California’s law on how hens can be housed.  

Iowa leads the U.S. in egg production. California’s law says laying hens must have enough space to fully extend their limbs, and any state like Iowa with different standards can’t sell eggs in California. Branstad says the law violates the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. constitution:

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2014 Elections
3:50 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

To Vote or Not to Vote?

Photo by Vaguely Artistic

Iowa’s two major party candidates for the state’s top elections post are staking out  contrasting views on how easy it should be to vote.  

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2014 Elections
6:43 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Older Iowans vs. the Governor

Senior citizens grilled Iowa’s two major party candidates for governor, pressing them on issues ranging from nursing home inspections to taxes on pensions.    

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Statehouse and Politics
6:40 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Branstad Appointees Under Fire

The head of an  Iowa Senate committee  looking into the hiring and firing practices of the Branstad  administration is warning that the governor’s department heads may   face tough prospects for reappointment in the Iowa Senate.    

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Statehouse and Politics
6:24 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

State Workers Fight Back

A two-day hearing got underway at the state capitol with job protections for state workers hanging in the balance.     State employees are fighting back after the Branstad administration reclassified their jobs so they can be fired without cause.   

The Branstad team changed the status of some  350 jobs in a reorganization of state government they say is legal and is saving the taxpayers money.   Administrative law judge Ann Smicek  is hearing the case of four state employees who lost their job protection.

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Governor's Race
11:03 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Democratic Challenger Nixes Ads

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch has suspended  television advertising in two major Iowa  media markets,  Sioux City and the Quad Cities, at least for now.   The campaign says they’re rethinking their media buys based on how many voters have requested absentee ballots.  

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2014 Elections
6:03 am
Sun September 21, 2014

Hatch on Offensive in Burlington Debate

A debate between Governor Branstad and his Democratic challenger Jack Hatch in Burlington was  billed  as a  discussion about job creation.   But Hatch made sure he got in other  licks. 

 It was a local affair moderated by the Burlington Hawkeye, and KWQC-TV’s  Gary Metevier. 

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Statehouse and Politics
4:03 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Vice President Biden Kicks off Nuns on a Bus Tour

Vice President Joe Biden speaking on the steps of the Iowa Capitol during the kick off for the “Nuns on the Bus” tour that will focus on voter registration.
Credit Photo by John Pemble

 

The social activist group Nuns on the Bus got a boost today for their 36 city tour to encourage voter registration.  They are launching the trip from Des Moines accompanied by Vice-President Joe Biden.  Speaking from the terrace of the State Capitol, Biden calls for the raising of the minimum wage.  “The middle class is in real trouble.  It was devastated by this recession.  It was already losing ground the previous ten years.” says Biden.

 

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Statehouse and Politics
5:45 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Hillary Clinton Fuels 2016 Speculation at Final Harkin Steak Fry

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former President Bill Clinton and Senator Tom Harkin flip steaks at the final Tom Harkin Steak Fry.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Former Secretary of State and one-time Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton returned to Iowa Sunday for the first time since her 3rd place finish in the Iowa Caucuses in 2008.   She was the featured speaker at retiring  Democratic Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry.  Even Harkin admitted she stole the show. 

Senator Harkin took the stage before some ten thousand activists and said this is a hell of a crowd:

“And to think you all came here just to see me,” Harkin joked with the crowd.  “Who am I kidding? You've had some steak now it’s time for some sizzle.”

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Statehouse and Politics
2:59 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Democrats Challenge Layoff Rules

Democrats in the Iowa Senate failed to stop a new rule at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services that   they say will  chip away at Iowa’s merit system of employment.    The rule would let state agencies lay off some permanent employees ahead of temporary workers in the event of a reduction in force.   

The new rule survived a challenge before the legislature’s administrative rules review committee.   DAS Human Resource Officer Michell Minnehan said sometimes it makes sense to keep temporary workers on.

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Statehouse and Politics
11:01 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Crime Victim Funds Scrutinized

Iowa’s Crime Victim Assistance Program was under scrutiny before a Republican-dominated committee at the statehouse.     The committee’s chairman says he got his questions answered about whether money was being misspent.   

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Crime, Justice and Public Safety
1:32 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Mandatory Bar Exam Survives

The Iowa Supreme Court  ruled that the Iowa bar exam will remain a requirement to practice law in the state.    The Iowa State Bar Association had sought to  waive the exam for graduates of Iowa law schools.

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Statehouse and Politics
3:29 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Hillary Backers Offer Free Trip to Indianola

Photo by Mike Mozart

A group known as Ready for Hillary is offering an all-expense paid trip to Iowa and the 37th annual Tom Harkin Steak Fry later this month.    Bill and Hillary Clinton will be the featured guests, and Hillary Clinton’s backers  want a big turnout.      

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Statehouse and Politics
7:53 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Wahlert Testifies Under Oath

The head of  Iowa Workforce Development Teresa Wahlert  took questions for nearly two hours from the Iowa Senate Oversight Committee.   One senator calls the agency dysfunctional, but Wahlert defends her leadership style.  

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Statehouse and Politics
7:32 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Judges Claim Political Interference

The Iowa Senate Oversight Committee questioned current and former judges  who rule on unemployment benefits for laid-off state workers.    Senators are  looking into allegations that management at Iowa Workforce Development favors  employers over employees in contested cases.   

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Environment
4:36 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Environmentalist Heads Agriculture Water Initiative

The head of a major environmental organization will lead  a new initiative to get farmers to comply with water quality standards.     But other  environmentalists are skeptical the new standards will work as long as they remain voluntary.    

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Statehouse and Politics
11:09 am
Mon August 25, 2014

More Scrutiny for Unemployment Fraud

Photo by Kay Henderson

State officials who oversee unemployment benefits for laid-off workers  say they are beefing up their fraud investigations, even as unemployment claims have fallen.   Half the investigative staff quit when they took advantage of an early retirement offer.  

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Health
2:57 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Ban on Telemed Abortions Upheld

Polk County Courthouse by Jimmy Emerson

A Polk County judge today ruled in favor of the Iowa Board of Medicine on so-called telemed abortions, which involve administering medical abortions without a doctor present.   The judge upheld the Board’s ban on the procedure.

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Crime, Justice and Public Safety
3:28 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

UNI Seeks to Recover Funds in Investment Fraud

Photo by Fried Dough

The University of Northern Iowa is going to bankruptcy  court to try to get money back from the now defunct Cedar Falls-based investment fund  Peregrine Financial  group.   The firm’s CEO Russell Wasendorf, Sr. is serving a 50-year prison term for defrauding investors of more than 200 million dollars. 

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2014 Elections
3:02 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Branstad and Hatch Spar over Tax Credits

photo by CleOpatra

Iowa’s major party candidates for governor  traded barbs over Democrat Jack Hatch’s career as a property developer in Des Moines.   

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Election Coverage
11:07 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Gubernatorial Candidates Debate at the Fair

Iowa’s two major party candidates for governor staked out sharply different priorities  in a debate Thursday at the Iowa State Fair.   Democrat Jack Hatch had his first chance  to go before a statewide audience with incumbent Governor Terry  Branstad. And Branstad’s long record in office  gave his challenger plenty to take potshots at.     

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Bakken Crude Shipments
3:57 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Nine Counties See Shipments of Bakken Crude

Photo by Cha gia Jose

Officials with the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management agency  released to the general public the routes rail lines take to haul crude oil through the state from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.    The rail lines are complying with a new federal mandate to report shipments of more than a million gallons.     

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Bakken Crude
10:49 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Bakken Crude Routes Revealed

Photo by Cha gia Jose

The United States Department of Transportation  has ordered the nation’s rail lines to let states know how much crude oil is coming through from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.  The  Bakken crude is especially  flammable and a number of derailments have resulted in disastrous fires.   Iowa officials are  in dispute with the rail lines about whether to release  the information to the general  public.  

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Pink Slime Returns
1:10 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Controversial Hamburger Product Returns

Photo by pointnshoot

A much-maligned beef product that’s sometimes added to  hamburger is making a comeback after a sharp decline  two years ago.    Processors cut back  on the production of  what they call finely textured beef when a nasty  nickname “pink slime” caught on in the media.   Now  demand for the product is on the rise because of high beef prices.   

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2014 Elections
5:00 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Ernst Wins Republican Nomination

Joni Ernst makes her acceptance speech for the GOP US Senate nomination on June 3, 2014 at the Des Moines Social Club.
Credit Joyce Russell / IPR

After pulling ahead late in a crowded field, State Senator Joni Ernst won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate  to replace retiring Democrat Tom Harkin.    

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Duane Arnold Report
8:06 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Nuclear Plant Economic Impact Touted

Governor Branstad at Nuclear Plant

Iowa’s only nuclear power plant, the Duane Arnold Energy Center,  is observing its fortieth year in operation with the release of a report showing its economic impact in  the state.   Governor Branstad joined company officials for a celebration at the plant outside Palo.  

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Statehouse and Politics
7:33 am
Mon May 5, 2014

What Got Done in the 2014 Iowa Legislative Session?

Credit John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa Legislature adjourned last week. Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to discuss what got done this legislative year. 

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