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.

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Democrats who control the Iowa Senate and Republicans who control the Iowa House are at still at odds over their budget targets. But there has been a little bit of movement. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checks in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to talk about this little bit of movement and about other issues before the statehouse in the coming week. 

Clay Masters / IPR

  The state’s largest water utility is restarting its nitrate removal equipment because levels of the pollutant are spiking in the rivers Des Moines uses for drinking water. 

The Des Moines Water Works recently sued three northwest Iowa counties (Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties) saying water from agricultural drainage districts contributes to the high level of nitrates. 

Photo by Clay Masters

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finished her brief two-day swing through Iowa today with a roundtable discussion with small business owners just outside Des Moines. Clinton is the only major Democratic presidential candidate to announce she’s seeking her party’s nomination. 

Journalists far outnumbered the handful of small business owners at this roundtable at Capital City Fruit in Norwalk. After a stop at a community college the day before, Clinton turned her attention to the job world.

Phil Romans / Flickr

Current Iowa law requires absentee ballots to be postmarked by the day before the election and received by noon on the following Monday. But what if the ballots aren't postmarked at all?

That's the question facing Iowa lawmakers. Some ballots aren't being postmarked and thus aren't being counted by county auditors. Wapello County was sued in 2010 over absentee ballots. County Auditor Kelly Spurgeon says the problem originates at the post office.

John Pemble / IPR

    

Republicans who control the Iowa House and Democrats who control the Iowa Senate continue to be pretty far apart when it comes to state aid for school funding.  Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checks in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the difference in opinions of the two chambers and discusses a number of other issues facing the legislature in the week ahead. 

Clay Masters / IPR

It’s that time of year when Midwest farmers are preparing to plant their crops. This year though more may be thinking about the water in their fields, that’s because a lawsuit by Iowa’s largest water utility is targeting the nitrates farms send downstream and polluting the Des Moines metro's drinking water sources. Local governments and big agriculture interest groups alike are now watching this lawsuit.

John Pemble / IPR

Last week was the second self-imposed deadline for the Iowa legislature to get bills through committee. That means if they didn’t clear committee on Friday… they’re dead for the year. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about what died and what's left for Iowa lawmakers to debate. 

Photo by John Pemble

Lawmakers in the Iowa Republican House last week passed legislation that would weaken bargaining rights for teachers unions. It’s unlikely to even be taken up in the Democratic-controlled Senate. It’s just another part of the fights over education at the Iowa statehouse. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the week ahead at the capitol. 

John Pemble / IPR

    There were some controversial bills passed in the legislature over the last couple weeks, but conversations about the state budget are stalled because of a disagreement over education funding between the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the week ahead at the capitol. 

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa Department of Human Services is seeking bids to outsource parts of the more than $4 billion  Medicaid program. Some lawmakers question the quality of care and cost savings the move will provide.

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa lawmakers pushed a hike to the state’s gas tax even further along last week. A bill to raise the state's gas tax by ten cents a gallon is on the fast track at the statehouse.   IPR's Clay Masters talks with Joyce Russell about the actions by House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) as well as the grim possibilities of lawmakers passing a hike to the state's minimum wage.

Clay Masters / IPR

Seattle musician Damien Jurado is spending a bit of time in Iowa this week playing more intimate shows. The early pioneer of Seattle’s singer-songwriter circle has been recording music and touring for nearly two decades. He performs Wednesday at Dordt College in Sioux Center and in a Coraville living room on Friday. He says this kind of venues offers fans a more personal setting.

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. 

John Pemble / IPR

Vice President Joe Biden says he’ll decide whether or not he’s running for president in 2016 in the coming months.Biden made a trip to Iowa Thursday, known for its first in the nation caucuses where many presidential campaigns start.

  The Vice President flew to Des Moines to talk to students at Drake University about the administration’s education policies. He also visited Ankeny-based Des Moines Area Community College to talk about the president’s plan for free tuition. He says the trip is not about testing the 2016 waters.

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Sunday is the deadline to get insured under the Affordable Care Act on healthcare.gov and healthcare organizations are hosting navigation sites across the state. 

John Pemble / IPR

Democrats who control the Iowa Senate are proposing a big push for school funding. But it could be a tough sell. It’s just one of the issues being discussed up at the statehouse. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about that as well as challenges in the overall proposed state budget and continued talks about a hike in the state's gas tax to pay for the state's deficient roads and bridges. 

Photo by John Pemble

Lawmakers gained ground on a method to pay for the state’s deficient roads and bridges last week. It was one of the many issues likely to be an issue this week. 

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 Clay Masters

The Iowa caucuses are still more than a year away, but last night a parade of potential 2016 presidential candidates appeared in Des Moines Saturday. The all-day event was hosted by Citizens United and Iowa’s Republican Congressman Steve King who opened up the event at Hoyt Sherman Place - a small theater in Des Moines.

"Do you believe that the next president of the United States is going to be speaking to you from this stage today?” King asks to applause. "As do I!"

John Pemble / IPR

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa wants details of Co-Opportunity Health's collapse and isn't ruling out congressional hearings.

UPDATE 1/23 12:25  

The Iowa Insurance Commissioner, as the court appointed rehabilitator for CoOportunity Health, has determined that rehabilitation of CoOportunity Health is not possible and will ask the court for an order of liquidation. 

John Pemble / IPR

The Republican Governor of Iowa is on track to become the longest serving Governor in the history of the United States. Terry Branstad was sworn into his sixth non-consecutive term last week.

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Terry Branstad was sworn in for his sixth non-consecutive term as governor in Des Moines surrounded by many supporters including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  

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.

It was a heck of a Christmas for David Fairchild and his wife, Clara Peterson. They found out they were about to lose their new health insurance.

"Clara was listening to the news on Iowa Public Radio and that's how we found out," Fairchild says. They went to their health plan's website that night. "No information. We still haven't gotten a letter about it from them."

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.

John Pemble / IPR

Clay Masters: It's Morning Edition on Iowa Public Radio. I'm Clay Masters. Governor Terry Branstad delivers his condition of the state speech this morning where he'll lay out his priorities in 2015. We sat down with the governor in his formal office at this capitol yesterday to get a bit of a preview. I start by asking the governor if this is the year a funding method will be approved to fix the state's deficent roads and bridges. 

Photo by John Pemble

The board of the state's largest water utility has voted unanimously to sue three northern Iowa counties, holding them responsible for the high nitrate levels in rivers the utility uses for source water. Des Moines Water Works CEO and General Manager Bill Stowe says there have been significant peaks in nitrate levels throughout the last three years.

UPDATE 12:35 pm Monday, January 5, 2015 - The "General" in charge of the Iowa Department of Transportation's battle plan for the approaching snow storm says they're ready to go. 

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The state insurance commissioner is taking over a co-op that was financed by the Affordable Care Act. 

League of Women Voters of California / Flickr

Republican Secretary of State-elect Paul Pate says he hopes to have the option for Iowans to register to vote online before the 2016 primaries. But at a public hearing  Tuesday in Des Moines, voter rights groups say it’s unfair.

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