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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John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa Senate is unlikely to take up the issue of collective bargaining, so why did the House debate it until 10 PM last Tuesday?

State Rep. Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, felt that the bill was a distraction from the bigger issue of school funding.

"They are waiting to know what their funds will be for this upcoming school year and we felt like this entire bill was a distraction and that's why we totally opposed it," Steckman says.

But State Rep. Greg Forristall, a Republican from Macedonia, says that these processes sometimes take years. 

Photo by John Pemble

Lawmakers in the Iowa Republican House last week passed legislation that would weaken bargaining rights for teachers unions. It’s unlikely to even be taken up in the Democratic-controlled Senate. It’s just another part of the fights over education at the Iowa statehouse. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the week ahead at the capitol. 

Jess Calhoun

Members of a gun safety group that formed after the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut were at the Iowa statehouse today. They’re lobbying against a bill awaiting debate in the Iowa Senate that critics say will expand access to firearms. 

Jess Calhoun of Ames is with the Iowa affiliate of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

“We want to work to see more common sense solutions to gun violence in our country,” Calhoun says.

Joyce Russell/IPR

After a roughly nine hour debate, Republicans in the Iowa House today voted strictly along party lines to scale back Iowa’s collective bargaining law for public employees, but only for teachers and other school employees. Dozens of education groups lobbied hard against the bill, which could make it more likely that teachers would get smaller raises when the school and teachers union disagree. Mason City Democrat Sharon Steckman calls the bill an attack on public schools.

John Pemble/Ipr

More than a thousand documents about the delayed opening of the new Fort Madison prison have arrived at the Capitol at the request of the House Oversight Committee .   The committee chairman says the documents reveal construction issues that prison officials have not previously discussed.   

The documents from the Department of Administrative Services include contracts and bills covering the months of construction.    Oversight Chief Republican Bobby Kaufmann is asking his nine-member committee for help sifting through the information.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A bill to raise the state sales tax for natural resource protection is being revived at the statehouse, and dozens of environmentalists and wildlife advocates crowded a committee room Tuesday in support.   The bill would raise the tax by three-eighths of a cent for the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, a constitutionally protected fund approved by Iowa voters in 2010.    

Ocheyedan Republican David Johnson says the new tax would bring in roughly 150 million dollars a year.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad’s appointee to head the Iowa Workforce Development Agency was questioned by a panel of State Senators. They are charged with confirming or denying the appointment.      

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The deadline for individual school districts to publish their budgets is April 5th, but in light of indecision at the statehouse, that's proving difficult.

That’s pushed one superintendent, Art Tate of Davenport Community Schools, to drastic measures: openly defying state law.

"I'm trying to improve the graduation rate and reduce the suspension rate and pull the achievement gap together, and I'm having to, every year, reduce. I just came to the point I said, 'I can't do that anymore. I won't do that anymore. It's immoral.'"

John Pemble / IPR

    There were some controversial bills passed in the legislature over the last couple weeks, but conversations about the state budget are stalled because of a disagreement over education funding between the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the week ahead at the capitol. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

The bill would allow the production and dispensing of marijuana in Iowa for the treatment of certain medical conditions.  

alamosbasement/flickr

After an hour and a half of emotional debate, the Iowa Senate Tuesday on a bipartisan vote, agreed to let school districts decide when to start classes in the fall.   

House Republican Caucus

By a wide margin and without debate, the Iowa House today approved a wide-ranging gun rights bill. 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

State lawmakers are working to advance a bill that would legalize sound suppressors for guns and allow children of any age to handle a gun under parental supervision, among other measures.

Photo by John Pemble

Nine potential candidates for the Republican nomination for President took the stage at the Iowa Agricultural Summit.

John Pemble/IPR

How to sentence teenagers who’ve committed heinous crimes continues to elude state lawmakers.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A lawmaker whose land will be traversed by a proposed oil pipeline wants protection for landowners.

Joyce Russell/IPR

School choice advocates flooded the Iowa statehouse Tuesday.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A wide-ranging firearms bill cleared a bipartisan panel in the Republican-controlled Iowa House.

Alex Heuer

Iowa’s new state penitentiary in Fort Madison is still empty, and now officials are worried about frozen pipes.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Sheriff's officers across the state say there aren't enough beds for Iowa's mentally ill, and some lawmakers are joining their cause.

John Pemble/IPR

A standoff between Democrats and Republicans over funding for K-12 schools next year continues at the statehouse.

Wes Thorpe/flickr

Cell phone companies are going head to head at the statehouse with Iowa’s towns and cities.

Photo by John Pemble

Sheriff’s officers and other officials report a shortage of psychiatric treatment beds across the state.

John Pemble / IPR

Attorneys in a lawsuit over the closing of the Iowa Juvenile Home for Girls in Toledo presented oral arguments before the Iowa Supreme Court.   

Joyce Russell/IPR

With broad bipartisan votes, the Iowa House and Senate approved a bill raising Iowa’s gasoline tax by 10 cents a gallon.

Photo by John Pemble

Iowa public employees would have more privacy while forming a union under proposed legislation in the Iowa House.  

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa lawmakers pushed a hike to the state’s gas tax even further along last week. A bill to raise the state's gas tax by ten cents a gallon is on the fast track at the statehouse.   IPR's Clay Masters talks with Joyce Russell about the actions by House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) as well as the grim possibilities of lawmakers passing a hike to the state's minimum wage.

Iowa Senate Democratic Staff

Senate Democrats want to reduce the number of African-Americans in prison.

Karina/flickr

There was an angry debate in the Iowa House Education Committee.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Juvenile court officers are painting a bleak picture for delinquent girls since the state’s training school closed.   

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