Statehouse and Politics

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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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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Statehouse and Politics
2:22 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Branstad Defends Stance on Immigrant Children

The U.S. government estimates up to 90,000 children will enter the U.S. this year.
Ryan Henderson

Governor Terry Branstad is defending his reluctance to grant asylum to unaccompanied children fleeing extreme violence in Central America.

"It would be wrong for us to send a signal that if you come here illegally, we're just gonna disperse you throughout the country and you don't have to go home."

Social justice advocate Connie Ryan Terrell of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa says many in Iowa’s faith community are disappointed with Branstad's decision, since the state has a history of welcoming immigrants.

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Statehouse and Politics
3:58 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

What Quinnipiac Reveals About Gender

Jan Egil Kristiansen

Today’s Quinnipiac University poll shows if the election for U.S. Senate were held today, 44 percent favor Democrat Bruce Braley and 40 percent favor Republican Joni Ernst.

Additionally, Quinnipiac finds Braley polling stronger with women by 11 percentage points, and Ernst holding a 4 percent lead with men.*

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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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Juvenile Home
7:55 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Juvenile Home Reopening Nixed

Photo by John Pemble

A compromise budget bill  means the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo will not reopen next year.    Democrats say the  home will remain closed for the time being, regardless of the outcome of their lawsuit against the governor.  

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Site Certification Program
1:51 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Four Iowa Sites Deemed Project Ready

Iowa Certified Site Logo courtesy Iowa Department of Economic Development

The Branstad administration has spent close to half a million dollars on an initiative  designed to convince more companies to locate here rather than in another state.   Four industrial sites have been designated as project ready, a trend officials say is catching on around the country.  

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Statehouse and Politics
8:04 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Iowa Lawmakers Expect to Adjourn this Week

Credit 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.

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Medical Marijuana
7:43 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Medical Marijuana Bill Advances

Sally Gaer is the mother of a 24 year old diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome. Gaer says medical marijuana would help her daughter.
Credit John Pemble/IPR

A bill to allow Iowa families to travel to other states and bring back a form of medical marijuana advanced   in the Iowa Senate.   Mothers of epileptic kids pushed  hard for the legislation, saying  cannabis oil can help relieve  their children’s seizures.

    

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Statehouse and Politics
3:54 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Limited Medical Marijuana Bill Advances at Statehouse

Sally Gaer has lobbied lawmakers for a law that would allow her to use cannabis oil to treat her daughter's seizures.
John Pemble IPR

A senate subcommittee has approved a bill that would let the parents of children with a severe form of epilepsy go out of state to get an oil-based form of medical marijuana for their children.  The bill will be considered by a full senate committee sometime after five o'clock today. 

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Tax Cut for Environment
7:23 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Tax Hike for Environment Advances

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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DAS Secret Payments
7:02 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Administrators Grilled Over Secret Payments

The Iowa legislature’s oversight committee questioned top administrators at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services over payments made to laid-off state workers for keeping their settlements with the state confidential.   But lawmakers still don't know where the authorization for the so-called hush money came from.

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Food Security
9:18 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Food Aid Turned Down by Legislature

Volunteers unpack donated food at the Johnson County Crisis Center in Iowa City.
Durrie Bouscaren Iowa Public Radio

In a procedural vote, the Iowa House turned down a million dollar appropriation to match private donations to Iowa’s food banks.   The legislature passed a similar measure last year, but Governor Branstad vetoed it.   One House Democrat spoke with unusual authority.   Representative Ako Abdul-Samaad  of Des Moines runs a soup kitchen as part of the Creative Visions social service agency he heads.  Here are some of his remarks.

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Tuition Freeze
9:09 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Tuition Freeze Deal Threatened

In the Iowa House, the wheels fell off an agreement to freeze tuition for another year at Iowa’s Regents Universities, but only if all three schools get  a 4% increase in state funds.   Republicans have agreed to mandate the  freeze,  but not all the schools will get their promised raise.   

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Statehouse and Politics
4:50 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Medical Marijuana Bill Gains Momentum in Statehouse

 

  A bill allowing Iowans to use medical marijuana in the form of cannabis oil is still alive at the statehouse. The Iowa Senate will move a medical marijuana bill before the end of the session.  

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Statehouse and Politics
6:35 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Branstad on Settlements, Medical Marijuana

Iowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad in the statehouse law library.
Credit John Pemble / IPR

Despite predictions for a speedy session in which nothing of substance was accomplished, the 2014 legislative session has had plenty of controversy.  Governor Terry Branstad was a guest on IPR’s River to River on Monday.

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Statehouse and Politics
8:12 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Debate over Confidential Settlements to State Workers Continues

Iowa's Capitol
Credit 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.

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State Worker Complaints
9:25 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Fired Workers Tell Their Stories

Democrats in the Iowa Senate  heard from four former state employees who lost their jobs in what the Branstad  administration terms  a reorganization of state government.   Democrats object to what they call mass layoffs of so-called merit employees who were hired for their expertise, not their political connections.     One worker  told of receiving money for keeping her settlement private,  a practice which  Governor Branstad has now banned.   

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Statehouse and Politics
7:35 am
Wed April 2, 2014

New Iowa GOP Chairman on Uniting Party

Danny Carroll is the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, in Iowa Public Radio's Des Moines studio. He was elected to the position on March 29, 2014.
Credit John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa Republican party has a new chairman. Former chair A.J. Spiker announced his resignation last month, he left to join Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s political action committee. Over the weekend the Iowa GOP Board elected former state legislator and lobbyist for social conservative organization The Family Leader, Danny Carroll. He shares his thoughts on several issues with IPR's Clay Masters.

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Bullying Bill
5:26 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Price Tag for Bullying Bill Debated

A bill on Governor Branstad’s to-do list is sparking controversy  at the statehouse.  The bill addresses the problem of bullying in the schools,  especially as it occurs on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.       But how much money to spend on the  problem remains a stumbling block.   Also,  a coalition of  conservative House Republicans has its  own ideas.    

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Statehouse and Politics
8:53 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Confidential Settlements Still Front and Center at Iowa Statehouse

Credit 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. 

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Statehouse and Politics
5:36 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Senator McCaskill is ISU’s Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics

Senator Claire McCaskill during a press conference in November 2013 talking about her bill designed to curb sexual assaults in the military.
Senator McCaskill's Flickr Page

There are 20 women now serving in the U.S. Senate including Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri. She is this semester’s Iowa State University Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics where Friday she delivered a lecture on the Ames campus.

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Statehouse and Politics
4:51 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Greyhound Industry Fights Racetrack Bill

Photo by Rainer Hungershausen

A three-member panel at the statehouse signed off on a  bill to end greyhound racing at casinos in Council Bluffs and Dubuque.    The casinos and the communities where they’re located say dog racing is a dying sport.  But the greyhound industry is putting up a good fight.  

  

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Statehouse and Politics
7:56 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Sen. John Culver Reflects on Bipartisanship of Congress

Former Sen. John Culver (center) with students at Simpson College.
Credit John C. Culver Public Policy Center

Former Democratic U.S. Senator John Culver served 16 years in Congress. He now lives in Washington D.C., but he’ll be back in Iowa later this week to visit the Culver Public Policy Center at Simpson College in Indianola.  

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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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Statehouse and Politics
6:25 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Investigating Iowa's Secret Settlements

Credit 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. 

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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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