Statehouse

John Pemble

What do honey bees, baseball fields and coin-operated laundries have in common? This year, their owners are being considered as possible recipients of new state tax breaks.

On this legislative day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer is joined by lawmakers and IPR correspondent Joyce Russell to discuss various tax bills being debated at the capitol.

Senator Joe Bolkom, a Democrat from Iowa City and Representative Tom Sands, a Republican from Wapello, also talk about what could be done with any state budget surplus, including giving it back to taxpayers.

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.'"

Katherine Perkins / Iowa Public Radio

Summer Program Director at the Des Moines YMCA Camp Alex Kretzinger says its difficult to develop schedules for summer camp not knowing when school will start next fall.

John Pemble

So-called conversion therapy seeks to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian youth.

John Pemble / IPR

Talks about an increase of ten cents a gallon to the state’s gas tax have really been the dominant topic to come out the statehouse this session.  IPR's Clay Masters speaks with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the gas tax and other issues being discussed at the statehouse. 

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A bipartisan senate committee voted overwhelmingly to ease the penalties for some cases of first-time marijuana possession.  

Joyce Russell/IPR

Academic counselors from the University of Iowa will be on the campus of the American Institute of Business in Des Moines this week.

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There’s a new coalition at the statehouse of African-American Democrats and free enterprise Republicans.  

John Pemble/IPR

A bill to allow Iowa’s two fully online schools to continue operation cleared a hurdle in the House yesterday.    

John Pemble / IPR

  Debates over how much of a raise to give to the state's schools usually dominates early discussions at the capitol. Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell tells IPR's Clay Masters this year the debate is on time. The two discuss other education topics and what's ahead this week. 

Photo by John Pemble / IPR

Governor Branstad outlined his priorities for this year’s legislative session in a thirty minute Condition of the State speech Tuesday.

John Pemble / IPR

Legislative leaders agree a tight budget will sharpen the focus on priorities this session. Identifying those priorities may be the sticking point.

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A Republican-sponsored tax credit will be so small this year that many taxpayers may not even notice it.     

Clay Masters / IPR

Candidates for the Iowa House and Senate have filed their final campaign finance reports before tomorrow’s election.    

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa Legislature adjourned last week and even though it’s an election year, lawmakers managed to get a few big items accomplished, including a $7-billion budget and a bill that decriminalizes some forms of medical marijuana in the state. At the same time, priority bills from the governor to crack down on schoolyard bullying and expand broadband to rural parts of the state failed.

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. 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

While there are many differences between Iowa and our neighboring states, there are also many similarities.  For example, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently signed a bill to allow the use of a cannabis extract for the treatment of seizures, while Minnesota's state legislature is still working on a similar proposal.  In recent weeks, an effort to decriminalize the possession of cannabis oil has gained ground in the Iowa statehouse.  In this week's legislative show, Host Clay Masters talks with statehouse reporters in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri to compare notes, and see

John Pemble / IPR

The predictions are out there that Iowa's legislative session will wrap up early this week. On Mondays we check in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to make sense of everything going on up at the capitol.

Democrats in the Iowa Senate  got the ball rolling on a bill that’s a dream come true for  environmentalists  and natural resource advocates.   The bill raises the state  sales tax for a natural resources trust fund that voters approved by constitutional amendment two years ago.  Backers added a tax cut​  to the bill to soften the blow.    

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Women currently make up 18.5 percent of the U.S. Congress. Yet Iowa is one of only two states that has never elected a woman to Congress nor had a female governor.

This hour, a look at the gender gap in politics – Why do women run for office less than their male counterparts? When they are in office, how do they govern?

Some highlights from today's guests:

Three reasons for the gender gap in political ambition: from Jennifer Lawless, Director of the Women & Politics Institute and Professor of Government at American University

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Host Ben Kieffer sits down with Iowa Public Radio statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell about developments surrounding the confidential settlements within Governor Branstad's administration and the end of the legislative session.

Also, planting season is right around the corner. Iowa State University agronomist and ISU Extension climatologist Elwynn Taylor discusses soil conditions throughout Iowa.

Photo by John Pemble

  

Almost every day last week we were getting updates on these so-called confidential settlements made by  the Branstad administration. More than 400,000 dollars has been paid out to laid off staffers.   IPR's Clay Masters gets the latest on it and other ongoing legislative issues from statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell.

John Pemble / IPR

The issue of the Branstad administration's confidential settlements with laid-off state workers still seems to be front and center at the capitol. As much as $400,000  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. 

John Pemble / IPR

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. 

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.  

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.   

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.  

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Last week was "funnel week" at the statehouse.  Now bills that couldn't make it through committee stand little chance of becoming law this session as lawmakers shift their focus to legislation that has more momentum to pass this year.  However many of these issues might be revived in future legislative sessions.

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.    

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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