Statehouse and Politics

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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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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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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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
6:43 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Iowa Caucuses Still Important in Off-Year

Credit Iowa Caucus

  Today Iowa Republicans and Democrats will hold caucuses across the state. It’s not a presidential year but there’s still plenty of drama with the Iowa caucuses this year. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Des Moines Register Political Columnist Kathie Obradovich about the caucuses and it's importance in a year with no presidential election.

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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
5:54 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Iowa Politicians Save Venom for 2014 Elections

The Iowa State Capitol on the opening day of the 2014 Iowa legislative session.
Credit John Pemble / IPR

The first of the 2014 legislative session comes to a close today, perhaps overshadowed by Governor Terry Branstad announcing he’s running for reelection. Many state lawmakers have their eye on looming national and state elections. Associated Press Statehouse and Political Reporter Catherine Lucey talks with IPR’s Clay Masters about how Iowa politics are shaping up at outset of 2014.  

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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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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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Rastetter on Tuition Freeze
2:23 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Regents President Insists on Funding Hike

The head of the Iowa Board of Regents says  he will insist on a 4% hike in state funding, if Iowans want the board to freeze tuition next year.      President Bruce Rastetter was the featured speaker at the Des Moines Conservative Breakfast Club. 

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Bullying Prevention Summit
9:48 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Bullying Prevention Views Differ

Students, teachers, and other school personnel turned out in Des Moines Monday for Governor Branstad’s second Bullying Prevention Summit.    The  governor  vowed to strengthen state law to combat  bullying online.    But  not everyone  agrees.   

  

    

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ATV's On The Road
8:03 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Off-Road Vehicles May Join the Road

An interim committee at the statehouse today heard from safety experts and off-road vehicle manufacturers as they consider whether to allow all-terrain vehicles to operate on public roadways.   A bill passed the House to open up county roads and highways  to ATV's  travelling as fast as 45 miles an hour.  But  it died in the Senate, and promoters say they’ll try again next year.   

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Statehouse and Politics
5:39 am
Thu October 24, 2013

GOP Candidates Establish Themselves in First Senate Primary Debate

Credit Iowa GOP Facebook

The half dozen Republican candidates in the 2014 primary race for U.S. Senate met Wednesday night in Des Moines for a debate. But as Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports it wasn’t much of a debate… more of a chance for voters to figure out who’s running.

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Mezvinsky Papers to ISU
6:09 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Mezvinsky Watergate Documents Donated to ISU

A former Democratic Iowa Congressman has donated his papers to Iowa State University.   Ed Mezvinsky  was  on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate scandal.     

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Statehouse and Politics
7:46 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Shutdown Could Cloud Iowa's Otherwise Bright Revenue Forecast

Credit John Pemble / IPR

Statehouse analysts are giving a cautiously optimistic forecast for modest  growth in the Iowa economy.    But they say that could change if Congress doesn’t act soon to end the federal government shutdown.    

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Statehouse and Politics
10:45 am
Wed October 9, 2013

DCI Pursues New Leads in Lottery Probe

Photo credit: barbourians

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation has granted immunity to a person of interest in Canada, as they continue to probe a questionable claim for a more than 14 million dollar Iowa Lottery jackpot from nearly three years ago.    

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Statehouse and Politics
7:15 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Sorenson Resigns After Ethics Report

Image by Gage Skidmore

An embattled state senator facing ethics complaints has resigned at the request of the minority leader in the Iowa Senate.   An independent counsel concluded Senator Kent Sorenson may have been guilty of criminal misconduct in office.   

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