Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter. He was part of a team of member station political reporters who covered the 2016 presidential race for NPR. He also covers environmental issues.

Clay joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a statehouse correspondent in 2012 and started hosting 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 Lincoln, Nebraska where he worked for Nebraska’s statewide public radio and television network.

He’s also an occasional music contributor to NPR’s arts desk.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

Ways to Connect

Food Bank of Iowa

About two dozen Des Moines police officers and Iowa State Patrol troopers packaged Thanksgiving meals at the Food Bank of Iowa in Des Moines this morning in an event called “Arrest Hunger”.

It took about 20 minutes for officers to assemble the 150 meal kits that food will be distributed to families in need in all of Iowa’s 99 counties, plus a couple dozen more in Des Moines. Colonel Jeff Ritzman is the Chief of the Iowa State Patrol says it’s their way to help out.

Clay Masters / IPR

There’s a city council election in Des Moines soon, and voters have questions about the rivers where the city draws its water supply.

 

“Is (the water) safe to drink? Is it safe to consume?” candidate Michael Kiernan says he’s been asked.

 

Madeleine King/Iowa Public Radio

What's the solution to Iowa water quality issues? One approach is to get cities, suburbs, and farms together to find solutions.  In this special edition of River to River, hear highlights from a recent panel discussion held at the Iowa Tap Room in Des Moines.  IPR's Clay Masters moderated the conversation.  

MadMaxMarchHere / Wikimedia Commons

Four finalists to be the next president of Iowa State University were on the Ames campus this week for interviews and meetings with faculty, staff and community members. Now, the search committee will review the feedback from the public forums and meet with the Board of Regents. A final decision is expected on October 23rd. The next president will replace Steven Leath who is now president of at Auburn University in Alabama. 

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa is one of 38 states that radically changed the way it runs Medicaid over the past few years. The state moved about 600,000 people on the government-run health program into care that is managed by for-profit insurance companies.

The idea is that the private companies would save the state money, but it has been a rocky transition in Iowa, especially for people like Neal Siegel.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Over the weekend, three Democratic U.S. representatives were in Iowa at a party fundraiser talking about how to appeal to the middle class again. Recently, Democrats have been losing elections in this state, known for its first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. The event was meant to breathe life back into an old annual event and introduce some new faces in the party.

For years, the Harkin Steak Fry, a fundraiser for former Iowa Democratic U-S Senator Tom Harkin, was an annual staple for politicians in his party across the country.

Many conservatives pundits and lawmakers were incensed that President Donald Trump appeared to make a deal with Democrats to enshrine into law the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that shields many undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children. To make matters worse for immigration hawks, Trump is also not requiring funding to build a wall along the Mexican border as a condition of the possible deal.

Clay Masters / IPR

City officials in Des Moines and surrounding suburbs met Wednesday to discuss a plan to regionalize how water is produced for customers in the state’s largest metro. West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer says it would be more cost effective for the central Iowa cities to work on producing water together instead of a bunch of separate facilities.

“It’s incumbent then on [the cities] as their own utility to go ahead and handle the water from that point to the residents,” Gaer says.

Daniel Go/Flickr

Students returned to school this week at Des Moines Public Schools, and it’s the first year the district offers all elementary school students breakfast at no charge.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Along Interstate 80 in Iowa, near the Illinois border, is The World’s Largest Truck Stop – at least that’s what it claims. It has parking for 900 big rigs, there are restaurants, showers, even a dentist. Driver Roosevelt Phillips is here from Pittsburgh. He says truck stops like this one are a community.

“We talk about everything. I mean, y’know, I’m an adult so I’m talking to another truck driver, so we talk about whatever comes up,” Phillips says.

They talk about everything from politics to the news of the day – and the strange activity they see on the road.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

A group of community members from Des Moines is asking Iowa’s U.S. senators to let a woman in Iowa arrested by Immigration Customs and Enforcement officials be reunited with her 4-month-old son.  

Clay Masters / IPR

 

There's been a lot of talk lately about restoring trust in American journalism. The proliferation of the term "fake news" is probably the most prominent sign of a media industry currently under siege. A Pew Research study found that as of 2016, about 25 percent of Americans express high levels of trust in news they get from local news organizations, while about 15 percent trust information from their social connections.

Iowa Democratic Party

The chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party is stepping down. Derek Eadon says he’s been diagnosed with non-life threatening Trigeminal Neuralgia and it requires radiation procedures over the summer.

“The last five months have shown me just how strong this party is,” Eadon says in a statement. “I will be taking some much needed time off, and I am excited to see what Democrats can do this election."

John Pemble / IPR

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie signed on with more than 200 mayors last week to uphold the Paris Agreement. That’s the global accord from which President Donald Trump withdrew the United States. Cownie says it’s a challenge for the city to move forward with clean energy goals without more buy-in from state leaders who regularly fall in line with the president.

“To ignore that factual piece and the science around it and all the data that’s out there is really unfortunate for the citizens of the state of Iowa and looking at our future and how we preserve our resources,” Cownie says.

Flickr Creative Commons

One morning on her way to school in Des Moines last month, 15-year-old Estela got a call from her mother. Her father had been arrested while going to work at a construction company.

“My dad was walking towards the office when the cars came in and told him to stop and pointed his guns at him.”

Estela’s father has a criminal conviction for re-entering the United States. Estela was born here. Her parents came to the U.S. fleeing violence in Mexico. We’re not using Estela's full name because her mother is also undocumented and fears she could also be arrested.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

If Governor Terry Branstad is confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to China, that will make Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds the next governor. Attorney General Tom Miller issued an opinion this week concluding Reynolds should not appoint a new lieutenant governor when she assumes the state’s highest job. Reynolds is disappointed with the attorney general contradicting his informal opinion he made last year. Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters sat down with Lt.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Governor Terry Branstad will go before a Senate Foreign Relations confirmation hearing this morning to become the next U.S. Ambassador to China. Back in 2010, he campaigned for the governorship again on a promise to add 200,000 jobs in Iowa.  We wanted to follow up on that campaign goal with Iowa State University Economist Dave Swenson, who says a governor really doesn’t have much control over gross job gains. 

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa legislature adjourned for the 2017 legislative session on Saturday, after pulling an all-nighter on Friday. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters spoke with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Many members of Congress are at home right now and are getting an earful from constituents about President Trump. One member with a difficult balancing act is Iowa Republican Rod Blum

He’s a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus but he represents a swing district.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Governor Branstad has submitted his revised budget to the state legislature, as lawmakers move toward considering a spending plan for the next fiscal year.  IPR Statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell told Clay Masters that the governor had to revise an earlier budget proposal after the Revenue Estimating Conference met in March and said the state would take in less money than expected.

John Pemble / IPR

Lawmakers begin another week at the Iowa statehouse this week.

Clay Masters / IPR

  A federal judge has dismissed The Des Moines Water Works lawsuit against three counties, claiming their agricultural drainage districts have been sending nitrate pollution into the rivers the water utility uses for drinking water. The lawsuit has been a hot button issue across Iowa and country because if the utility had been successful it could have regulated farming.

Clay Masters / IPR

A federal judge has dismissed The Des Moines Water Works lawsuit against three counties, claiming their agricultural drainage districts have been sending nitrate pollution into the rivers the water utility uses for drinking water. The lawsuit has been a hot button issue across Iowa and country because if the utility had been successful it could have regulated farming.

Clay Masters / IPR

Water utilities clashed with their cities at a public hearing at the capitol Monday over a bill that would dismantle the Des Moines Water Works board and create a regional utility. Critics of the bill say it is about stopping a controversial lawsuit that targets large-scale agriculture.

John Pemble / IPR

Bills in the Iowa legislature that did not meet a self-imposed deadline last week are now dead. That means action likely won’t be taken on bills dealing with the death penalty and a medical marijuana program. “There’s no surprise that some of the top GOP priorities are very much alive and moving forward,” says IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell. Here’s some of the highlights moving forward.

Clay Masters / IPR

A bill in the Iowa legislature would break up the Des Moines Water Works board and replace it with a regional water authority. Those who support the bill say it will update a 100-year-old system for delivering water to the growing metro and its suburbs. Critics say the bill is really about stopping a controversial lawsuit from the Des Moines Water Works targeting large scale agriculture.

John Pemble / IPR

The self-imposed deadline for lawmakers to get bills out of committee known as “funnel week” is now upon the Iowa legislature.  Here’s what to know going into this important step at the capitol this week, according to IPR’s Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell.

Clay Masters / IPR

The state’s largest public sector labor union has filed a lawsuit that says a new collective bargaining law is unconstitutional. The lawsuit seeks to halt immediate enforcement to the changes in the law that Gov. Terry Branstad signed Friday. After quickly moving through the legislature last week, the new law prohibits public sector unions from negotiating over issues like health insurance.

John Pemble / IPR

  Both of the Republican-majority chambers of the Iowa legislature have passed a sweeping bill that dramatically hits public sector union collective bargaining rights. In Wisconsin, a similar bill passed six years ago. It has significantly scaled back the power of the state's public sector unions in not only negotiating contracts but also fundraising for democratic candidates. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Wisconsin Public Radio's Shawn Johnson about how things have changed there since Act 10 was passed in 2011. 

Lawmakers in Iowa began debating a bill Tuesday to dramatically change how public sector unions negotiate their contracts, part of a wave of legislation in statehouses across the country to roll back union rights.

The bill, similar to a 2011 law in Wisconsin, is high on the state's legislative agenda and comes as Republicans control both chambers of the state Legislature and the governor's mansion for the first time in nearly 20 years.

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