Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a statehouse and political correspondent in 2012 and started hosting IPR’s Morning Edition in 2014. Clay is an award-winning multi-media journalist whose radio stories have been heard on various NPR and American Public Media programs.

He was one of the founding reporters of Harvest Public Media, the regional journalism consortium covering agriculture and food production in the Midwest. He was based in Nebraska where he worked for Nebraska’s statewide public radio and television network. 

Clay continues to report on a wide variety of topics including politics, health and the environment. He’s also a regular music contributor to NPR’s arts desk.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

Ways to Connect

Clay Masters / IPR

Donald Trump returned to Iowa Saturday where the race between him and Hillary Clinton remains very close. Trump was there for Iowa freshman Sen. Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride fundraiser, which features a motorcycle ride and barbeque.

Sen. Joni Ernst led the group of more than 400 riders on a 42-mile trip that started at a Harley Davidson dealer in Des Moines and ended on the Iowa State fairgrounds. Trump did not participate in the ride.

Clay Masters / IPR

There’s one issue both major presidential candidates seem to be in agreement on. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton say they’re opposed to President Obama’s multinational trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In the swing state of Iowa, many agricultural groups are in favor of the TPP for new markets it will open for exports like Iowa pork.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There's one issue the major presidential candidates seem to agree on. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton say they're opposed to President Obama's multi-national trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Clay Masters / IPR

There’s been a lot of talk in Iowa about water quality. From failed attempts by the legislature and the governor to come up with new funding, to the state’s largest water utility suing three rural boards of supervisors in northwest Iowa. That area of the state is part of a region called the “prairie pothole”. It stretches from Canada, down through the Dakotas, northern Montana and western Minnesota as well.

In North Dakota, much of this habitat is still intact and conservationists are concerned about the health implications of a landscape looking more like Iowa.

John Pemble/IPR

Republican Congressman Steve King says he does not have any qualms with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall on the Mexican border. He says he’d go even further. King made his comments before a crowd at the Des Moines Register soapbox on the opening day of the Iowa State Fair.

Clay Masters/IPR

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was back in Des Moines Wednesday for her first appearance since her close win over Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses. 

After touring a local t-shirt store and stopping at a bakery, Clinton spoke to about 1500 people packed in the gym at Lincoln High School. She says in her first 100 days as president she’ll make the biggest investment in good paying jobs since World War Two. She also spoke highly of Iowa wind energy.

Clay Masters / IPR

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was in Iowa last night, speaking just before his rival Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic presidential nomination. This was Trump’s first trip to the state since coming in second in the state’s kick-off caucuses.

Trump told thousands packed in a hotel convention room in downtown Cedar Rapids he learned a lot from Iowa.

"I went around for two months even after I won in New Hampshire. I kept going back to Iowa," Trump told the crowd. "I’d go what happened?"

John Pemble / IPR

  The Democratic National Convention begins on Monday in Philadelphia and Iowa’s 44 Democratic delegates will be there. Hillary Clinton is expected to formally get the nomination of her party for president. Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire is confident the party will unite behind Clinton even though some Iowa delegates continue to back Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. She says Clinton and Sanders had a lot in common.

“We talk about the inclusion we have in our party,” McGuire says. “I think people will come around to being unified.”

John Pemble / IPR

 The Republican National Convention starts in Cleveland on Monday and 30 delegates will represent Iowa. Jeff Kaufmann is the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party. He says Iowa delegates are bound to the presumptive presidential nominee even though a small group of delegates still want to back Iowa caucus winner Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

“Bottom line is we’ve got some folks that still want Cruz to be the nominee. That’s not going to happen," Kaufmann says. "The overwhelming majority of the Iowa delegation understands that Trump is our nominee.”

Clay Masters / IPR

  Presidential hopefuls barnstorm Iowa for months or even years in the run up to the state's first in the nation contest. Many hit all of its 99 counties, but the general election is all about the state's half dozen electoral votes. That means the campaigns treat it differently.

An efficient way to get voters is to target places like Ankeny, Iowa. New census data shows this small farm town turned bustling Des Moines suburb is the third-fastest growing city in the country. Gary Lorenz is its mayor. He says growth is more than just building roads.

Clay Masters/IPR

This week IPR News is taking a look at water quality in the state.

Iowa Lawmakers, farmers and environmentalists continue to debate the best way to curb water quality issues, following an unsuccessful attempt to fund more projects this legislative session.

Clay Masters / IPR

This week IPR News is taking a look at water quality in the state.

A state cost share program designed to help Iowa farmers install nutrient reduction practices on their farm is entering its fourth year.  Lawmakers and the governor struggled this legislative session to come up with a way to spend more money on water quality in the state. In the last three years, the state has awarded $12 million on 45 different projects.

Clay Masters / IPR

This week IPR News is taking a look at water quality in the state.

John Pemble / IPR

Lawmakers return to the capitol in Des Moines for what is expected to be the final week of the 2016 legislative session. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talked with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the big issues they’re going to tackle (or not) before they can go home.

1)      The State Budget. This is always an issue Democrats in the Senate and Republicans in the House have to agree over.  A GOP Human Services Budget bill that defunds Planned Parenthood must be reconciled with the Democratic Senate.  

Peter Dutton/Flickr

Iowa’s largest public school district is testing its water for lead contamination. There are no state requirements for schools to routinely test their water supplies, but following reports of high levels of lead in school drinking water supplies around the country, Des Moines Public Schools decided they’d test all of their school buildings. Phil Roeder with the district says the average age of its schools is 65 years. He says all of the buildings have been renovated at some point.

Photo by John Pemble

The split Iowa Legislature has taken another step toward adjournment by agreeing to state budget targets. Details for the budget of about $7.3 billion remain pretty vague at this point. Here’s what IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell says are the important details to watch this week:

John Pemble

Here’s what to know going into the week at the Iowa legislature.

John Pemble / IPR

 

There are more deadlines this week that will force bills forward or fall flat. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talked with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell and has these takeaways.

John Pemble / IPR

If Republicans don't hold hearings on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Democrats believe the issue could help them win the Senate this November.

One test case for this proposition is Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees Supreme Court nominations.

At 82 years old, Grassley has coasted safely to re-election for decades and is seeking his seventh Senate term this fall.

Flickr / Steven Brewer

The Iowa Supreme Court is expected this morning to release a decision that could severely weaken Iowa’s open meetings law. The justices must decide if sending messages through an employee, the Warren County Board of Supervisors were still holding a "meeting," as defined under Iowa code.  

What happened?

In March 2014, the Warren County Board of Supervisors laid off 12 county employees.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, is still saying he will not hold confirmation hearings, now that President Obama has selected a Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Michael Leland / IPR

More bills have reached deadlines for continuing in the Iowa legislature. IPR’s Morning Edition Host Clay Masters got the latest from Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell on what to expect going into the week of March 14 at the statehouse.

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters spoke with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell. Here’s what she told him:

1. Kids likely won’t be allowed to handle guns. Iowa got a lot of national attention for a bill in the Iowa House that would allow children, 14 and younger, to handle a gun under parental supervision. “I would say there’s virtually no way this would pass the senate,” IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell said. The gun bill that could pass both chambers is one to legalize gun suppressors.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Former Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge is running for the U.S. Senate seat held since 1981 by Republican Chuck Grassley.  She becomes the fourth Democrat to enter the race.

Judge announced her candidacy with a news release this morning and a post on her Facebook page, calling herself, "the Judge Chuck Grassley can't ignore."  Grassley heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has said it would not hold a hearing for anyone President Obama nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.

John Pemble / IPR

Lawmakers in the Iowa House and Senate have reached the first major deadline this legislative session. While many bills have fallen by the wayside, some major issues still loom.

Jared Wong / Flickr

The organization AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, says 42 percent of Iowa’s private sector workers do not have an employer-sponsored retirement plan. State Senator Janet Petersen and Iowa’s State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald are working to change that. They’ve proposed a state-run plan for private employees, something more than 20 states are also considering. 

U.S. Supreme Court

Senator Chuck Grassley says it’s "standard practice" to hold off nominating and confirming a U-S Supreme Court Justice during a presidential election year. The Iowa Republican’s comments come following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday. There have been several nominations and confirmations of justices during election years.

John Pemble / IPR

As Iowa lawmakers dash to get bills out of committee in either the House or Senate, IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell has her eye on a few big questions this week: 

1. Can medical marijuana backers get a bill out of committee?

John Pemble / IPR

With the Iowa caucuses over and the general election months away, political watchers in Iowa turn their gaze to the capitol. The legislature is taking on many of the same characteristics of previous sessions. IPR’s Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell laid out the following observations:

1. The Governor’s Agenda is modest and defining issues this session are hard to identify.

Amy Mayer / IPR

    

  After Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s victory in the Iowa Caucuses many are questioning the political importance of ethanol, an industry that has long held sway in the political scene of Iowa and much of the Midwest.

Iowa is the top-producer of ethanol, the corn-based fuel, in the country. With its status as the first state that gets a crack at the presidential contest, Iowa often brings renewable fuels into the political limelight.

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