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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Statehouse and Politics
9:48 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Appropriations to Address Shortage of State Troopers

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. 

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.

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Statehouse and Politics
6:50 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Anti-Bullying and Rural Broadband Bills on Rocky Ground

Credit John Pemble / IPR

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.

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Democrats Challenge Branstad Administration
3:24 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Democrats To Investigate anti-Branstad claims

Statehouse Democrats say the legislature's oversight committee will be very busy in the coming weeks, as they look into recent allegations against  the Terry Branstad  administration.    They say the panel will first look into reports of secret settlements to fired state workers.  

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Statehouse and Politics
8:37 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Lawmakers Funnel More Bills Forward with Primary Election Looming

Credit John Pemble / IPR

  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.   

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Statehouse and Politics
8:27 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Lawmakers talk Bullying, Budgets, Minimum Wage

Credit John Pemble / IPR

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.  

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Statehouse and Politics
9:17 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Wage Theft Crackdown Approved

On a strict party-line vote, the Iowa Senate  approved legislation backers  say will help crack down on employers who stiff workers for their wages.   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.   Some employers tell a different story.

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Statehouse and Politics
6:25 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Iowa Lawmakers Expect Early Legislative Adjournment

Credit John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa legislative calendar has the last day of the 2014 session falling late next month. Last week Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, said Iowa Republicans and Democrats have gotten better working together.

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Juvenile Home Spat
5:08 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Parties Spar Over Juvenile Home Bill

Credit Photo by Dean Borg

On a strict party line vote, the Iowa Senate  approved a Democratic bill calling for a facility for delinquent girls in Iowa comparable to the boy’s facility in Eldora.  But  Republicans say a state-run institution  isn’t necessary, and the private sector can fill the need.   

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Borlaug Centennial
4:28 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Borlaug Statue Unveiling Planned

Benjamin Victor’s clay sculpture of Norman Borlaug during a one week residency at the Iowa Historical Building in March 2013. A bronzed version will be installed in the US Capitol’s National Statuary Hall on the 100th anniversary of Borlaug’s birth.
Credit Photo by John Pemble

The date’s now  set for the  unveiling of a new statue to represent Iowa in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.  It’s a  likeness of famed Iowa agricultural  scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner  Norman Borlaug.    The March 25th ceremony in Washington is just one part of  a lavish observance of the centennial of Borlaug’s birth.   

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Statehouse and Politics
8:41 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Iowa Lawmakers Push Forward At Least 100 Bills

Credit John Pemble / IPR

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.    

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Wellmark Profits Questioned
5:12 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Democrats Target Wellmark Reserves

On a strict party-line vote, a committee in the Iowa Senate today addressed  what they say may be  excessive reserves  at the state’s leading health insurance company.   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.     An earlier audit showed the company’s reserves might be too low.     

    

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Cellphone Insurance Stays Unlicensed
7:40 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Cellphone Insurance Bill Stalls

At the statehouse  the wheels fell off an 11th hour compromise to regulate the sale of cellphone insurance.   Some retailers offer it when you sign up for a cellphone plan.   But  store  clerks  aren’t required to be licensed to sell it.     A bill to change that set off an industry battle.   

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Statehouse and Politics
7:50 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Expanding Broadband, Preventing Bullying: Bills Likely to Advance

Credit John Pemble / IPR

This week is when lawmakers have to have their bills wrapped up so they can make to the floor to be debated in either the Iowa House or Senate. This is an election year and at the outset of the session Republican and Democratic leaders said things can get done this session despite a lot of lawmakers vying for higher office and re-election, but consensus would have to be reached early. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to talk about the early deadline dubbed funnel week by lawmakers. 

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NASCAR tax break questioned
9:52 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Lawmakers Question NASCAR Subsidy

Officials with NASCAR, the new owner of the Iowa Speedway, are asking state lawmakers for an extended tax rebate to, in their words, offer  more events at the Newton track.  Some state lawmakers are questioning whether a  wealthy organization like NASCAR needs an 8 million dollar tax break.

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Child Care Bill Debated
5:53 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Grieving Couple Advocates for Child Care Bill

A couple from Adel brought tearful testimony to the statehouse.    Their  infant daughter died as a result of her care at an in-home child care provider.   A Republican-sponsored bill would require more in-home day cares to register with the state.    

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Statehouse and Politics
7:26 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Branstad asks Supreme Court to Overturn Juvenile Home Order

Credit John Pemble / IPR

This legislative session has been dominated by controversy surrounding the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. Gov  Branstad ordered its closure after the group Disability Rights Iowa found girls were being held in isolation. Four lawmakers sued Branstad to keep the home open. Last week many were surprised when a polk county district court judge ordered the reopening of the home. Governor Branstad has asked the Iowa Supreme Court to overturn the order to reopen the home. He made the announcement Friday and he is being represented by the Iowa Attorney General.

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Smart Meter Privacy Concerns
5:00 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Rural Residents Question New Smart Meter Technology

Iowa’s rural electric cooperatives are aggressively pursuing a new technology for measuring  electricity consumption  at homes and farms.    With so-called  smart meters , the REC’s  can tell how much power you’ve used without going anywhere near your house.   Health and privacy concerns have led some rural residents to look to the legislature for help.  

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Statehouse and Politics
7:43 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Juvenile Home's Future Unsure, The Likelihood of a Gas Tax Hike

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Terry Branstad ordered the closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo last month. It was after an investigation uncovered some girls were held in isolation cells. Last week Senate Democrats unveiled a bill to reopen the home under a new program. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Statehouse Correspondent about the juvenile home as well as the likelihood of lawmakers raising the state's  gas tax.

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Juvenile Home Backlash
11:17 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Courts Oppose Closing Juvenile Home

State lawmakers looking into the closing of the Iowa Juvenile Home at Toledo got a fresh perspective from juvenile court officers who work with the  delinquent girls who used to be assigned to the home.     The officers argue that Iowa needs a facility specifically for  girls who’ve been in serious trouble with the law.  Governor Branstad is at odds with the judicial branch. 

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Statehouse and Politics
6:53 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Stricter Training of Stun Guns Considered in Iowa Prisons

Credit John Pemble / IPR

A committee in the Iowa Senate heard from experts on using stun guns, so-called tasers, to subdue difficult inmates. Two prisoners have died in Iowa jails after being tased by officers. A number of other law enforcement agencies have faced lawsuits for their use of stun guns. Iowa Public Radio's Joyce Russell reports

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Statehouse and Politics
6:01 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Lawmakers Differ on Education Funding

Iowa’s Capitol during the first month of the 2014 legislative session.
Credit John Pemble / IPR

Leaders in the Democratic Iowa Senate say they plan to set state aid funding for the 2016 school year and provide more money to expand access to preschool. But Republicans who control the Iowa House see things a bit differently. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the week ahead in the state legislature.

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Slain Girl's Family Wants Law
2:34 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Shepard Family Lobbies for Kidnapping Bill

The Shepard family from Dayton Iowa and their friends and supporters came to the capitol  to lobby for tougher penalties for kidnappers.  15 year old  Kathlynn

  

   Shepard  died at the hands of a kidnapper last year, and lawmakers say a stronger law  might have prevented the tragedy. 

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Statehouse and Politics
5:53 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Lawmakers Hear from Former Juvenile Home Residents, Employees

Credit John Pemble / IPR

Democrats in the Iowa Senate plan to introduce a bill to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo.   Governor Branstad ordered the home closed after an  investigation revealed that some girls were being held in long-term isolation.   On Wednesday, a Senate committee heard testimony from former residents and staff, as well as Toledo boosters.  Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell reports:  

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Statehouse and Politics
6:00 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Sorting Out the Governor's 2014 State Budget

The Iowa legislature remains adjourned during the federal holiday Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Credit John Pemble / IPR

Lawmakers kicked off the 2014 legislative session last week and Governor Terry Branstad laid out his priorities: create job opportunities to incentive military veterans to move and work in Iowa, bring high speed internet access to the entire state and introduce legislation that would prevent school bullying. These issues can likely get bipartisan support in an election year. Clay Masters talks to statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell about the one thing both parties agree has to get done this legislative session: the budget.

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Statehouse and Politics
5:52 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Will the 2014 Legislative Session Be as Productive as Last Year?

The Iowa State Capitol on the last day of the 2013 legislative session.
Credit John Pemble / IPR

Today is the first day of the 2014 Iowa legislative session. It’s an election year, which usually means the time lawmakers meet will be short so people can go run for re-election. IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell talks with Clay Masters about the 2014 legislative session. 

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Year in Review
2:24 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Top IPR Reporter Picks of 2013

2013 has been a busy year for Iowa Public Radio's news team. Today on River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with reporters and correspondents about some of the most meaningful and challenging stories they covered. It's a "reporter's notebook" edition of the show.

Here is a list of the full features heard on today's show:

January 10 - Undocumented Immigrants at University

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Juvenile Home Video Challenged
7:32 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Information Board Passes on Controversial Video

Photo by photolibrarian

A new state board charged with enforcing Iowa’s open meetings and open records laws  is facing a tough case.   The Des Moines Register is seeking the release of a video it believes  will show the mistreatment of a young girl at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo.     But the  new Iowa Public Information board declined to rule.   

      

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Health
8:54 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Anti-abortion Group Challenges Iowa Campaign Finance Law

An Iowa anti-abortion group wants the U.S. Supreme Court to consider its case against a state campaign finance law.

An anti-abortion group is waiting to hear if the  U.S. Supreme Court  will  reconsider  a ruling on  an Iowa campaign finance law.   Iowa passed its statute in response to the landmark case known as Citizens United.  

Iowa Right to Life says the law prevents  them from supporting  candidates who oppose abortion.     

The Iowa Attorney General is also waiting to hear if the U.S. Supreme Court will take on the case.  

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Health
7:45 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Feds Approve Iowa's Medicaid Expansion Alternative - Mostly

Credit differentieel / Flickr

A months-long battle over health insurance for thousands of uninsured low-income Iowans has moved closer to resolution.  The federal government agreed to most of the plan Iowa adopted instead of  simply expanding Medicaid. But the feds say the poorest individuals should not have to pay premiums, as proposed under the Iowa plan.

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Student Debit Card Probe
8:47 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Feds Probe Student Banking Offers

Photo by Kelli Cree

The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington  is looking into a  banking  service  that’s growing in popularity on college campuses.    Universities  team up with large banks to offer debit cards to students.     

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