Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a correspondent in 2012.  He covers the statehouse when the legislature is in session, and reports on a variety of topics the rest of the year. Clay is an award-winning multi-media journalist whose radio stories have been heard on various NPR and American Public Media programs. His television documentaries have aired on PBS stations across the country. He’s also a regular contributor to NPR’s arts desk, covering indie music news.

Clay is a Nebraska native and worked for Nebraska Public Radio and Television (NET) before coming to IPR. He was one of the founding reporters of Harvest Public Media, the CPB-funded Local Journalism project covering agriculture in the Midwest.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

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Legislative Day
2:48 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Shifting Views on Medical Cannabis in the Iowa Legislature

Sally Gaer is mother of a 24 year old diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome who says medical marijuana would help her daughter. She is standing in the Iowa Capitol Law Library, 3/31/2014
John Pemble

Views on medical marijuana appear to be shifting in the Iowa Senate and among the GOP.

Today on River to River - what this may mean for cannabis in Iowa moving forward.

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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
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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Legislative Day
3:36 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Future Regulation of Drones in Iowa

An image of a farm from an RC Helicopter UAV
Frederic Rivollier

"Since the beginning of 2013, there has been a huge increase in the sale of really simple UAV systems," says Rory Paul, CEO of Volt Aerial Robotics, based in Chesterfield, Missouri.

With their ability to take high definition photo and video footage, UAVs (known as "unmanned aerial vehicles" or drones) bring up a number of security concerns, and they also have the potential to be put to good use. The Iowa legislature is currently considering ways to regulate these vehicles; so today on River to River, we analyze this legislation.

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Legislative Day
3:14 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Iowa Statehouse Considers Legalizing Fireworks

Jeff Golden

On the Fourth of July, Iowans may hear fireworks going off in their neighborhoods, but it is still illegal to buy and light large aerial fireworks in the state.

This legislative session, lawmakers at the Iowa Statehouse are considering whether to lift the ban on the sale and use of fireworks. State Representative Matt Windschitl and Al Esch, of the Iowa Firefighters Association, sound off with their opinions on the matter, along with River to River listeners.

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Do you feel strongly about whether fireworks should be legal in Iowa?

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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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Legislative Day
4:52 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Iowa House and Senate Consider Changes to HIV Law

John Pemble IPR

In the last decade, society's understanding of HIV transmission has increased and medical technology has advanced; but in the 1990s, HIV was still a scary concept, and an Iowa law reflects that fear.

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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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Health
6:49 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Rural Iowa Cancer Care Challenges Highlighted in New Report

Credit asco.org

The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare is expected to provide millions more Americans with health insurance coverage. But a new report says the ACA alone may not solve disparities in cancer care. The University of Iowa partnered with the American Society of Clinical Oncology recently and released the State of Cancer Care in America: 2014. 

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Legislative Day
3:26 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Bullying Bill Moving Forward, Funding and Cyber-bullying are Sticking Points

JLM Photography Flickr Creative Commons

Republican Governor Terry Branstad identified legislation to combat bullying as one of his top priorities for this legislative session.  However, a bill has stalled in the Iowa House, bogged down by 17 amendments.  Concerns have arisen in the Republican-controlled chamber over whether schools should be responsible for bullying that occurs online or off school grounds.  In his weekly news conference Monday, Governor Branstad said he plans to talk with Iowa House members about moving the legislation forward.  In the meantime, a bill is advancing in the Democratically-controlled Iowa Senate th

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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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Education
3:13 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Learning English in Iowa

Vinh Nguyen, English Language Learners Program Coordinator for the Des Moines Public Schools
John Pemble/ Iowa Public Radio

Iowa schools are becoming more diverse, and English Language Learning services are in greater need.  Districts are trying to adapt, and the Iowa legislature has some ideas for addressing the issue.  On this Legislative Day River to River program, guests include Des Moines Senator Janet Petersen, Council Bluffs Representative Mary Ann Hanusa, Legislative Analyst for the Urban Education Network Margaret Buckton, English Language Learners Program Coordinator for the Des Moines Public Schools Vinh Nguyen, and Director of Refugee Services at Lutheran Services in Iowa Nick Wuertz.

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Education
7:30 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Schools Adapt to Rapidly Diversifying State

Meredith Middle School students learn about the planets in Jillea Bueso's classroom.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

At Meredith Middle School on Des Moines’ northwest side there are more than 30 ways students say hello. The number of languages can change week to week. This school year the Des Moines school district will receive more than 6 million dollars from federal and state funds for ELL services, and will also spend more than a million dollars of its own money. Next year the district plans to have more than 6,000 ELL students.

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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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River to River
3:13 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Which Bills Survived Funnel Week?

Iowa's Capital, Feb. 25, 2014.
John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

Last week was "funnel week" at the statehouse.  Now bills that couldn't make it through committee stand little chance of becoming law this session as lawmakers shift their focus to legislation that has more momentum to pass this year.  However many of these issues might be revived in future legislative sessions.

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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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iowa Juvenile Home
4:18 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Compromise Sought on Juvenile Home

Iowa's Capitol on a snowy morning
John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

As the legal battle over whether Governor Terry Branstad had the authority to close the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo plays out in court, lawmakers are coming to agreement over what changes are needed to establish a place for the state's female juvenile delinquents.  A bill in the Iowa Senate provides for a state run facility for girls, much like the one in Eldora that serves boys.  But changes to state law are needed to ensure that girls will not again be held indefinitely in isolation cells, without access to education and services.  Host Clay Masters talks with Jerry Foxhoven who served a

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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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Health
7:11 am
Thu February 13, 2014

E-Cigarettes: Regulating a Changing Smoking Culture

Aliesha Kirby, one of Central Iowa Electronic Cigarettes' store managers, said they've never sold their products to minors and many of their customers use e-cigarettes to cut back their nicotine consumption.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

The Iowa House voted to ban the sale of so-called e-cigarettes to minors this week. Electronic cigarettes heat liquid and nicotine into a smokeless vapor. Republicans, who control the House, blocked debate on a Democratic amendment that would have also kept similar e-cigarettes out of kids’ hands, even if they do not contain nicotine. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters talks to the sponsor, Rep. Tyler Olson (D - Cedar Rapids) of the amendment and takes a trip to an e-cigarette shop in northwest Des Moines.

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Iowa Statehouse
4:27 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Restoring Ex-Convicts' Right to Vote

A Mitchellville prisoner knits an afghan to help pay for restitution to victims
Emily Woodbury

A bill backed by Democrats in the Iowa Senate will make it easier for felons who have completed their sentences to have their voting rights restored. The bill passed a divided Senate subcommittee last week.

As the law stands, people who commit felonies must serve their sentences and pay all court-ordered compensation to victims before they can apply to the governor to restore their voting rights. The policy comes from an executive order signed by Governor Branstad in 2011.

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Iowa Statehouse
3:52 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Plans to Provide Affordable Broadband Access to all Iowans

Iowa's Capitol during a snowy winter day, February 7 2014
John Pemble

A large majority of Iowa households have broadband access, but less than half of Iowans have access to speeds at 50 Mbps or greater. This creates disparity among certain demographics and can be exceedingly expensive for the increasing number of people who work online from home.

Two proposals, from Governor Branstad and the Iowa Senate, aim to lower these gaps and provide affordable broadband access to all Iowans. Today on River to River, host Clay Masters sits down with representatives to find out more about rural broadband expansion plans being considered at the Iowa Capitol.

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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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Iowa Statehouse
3:54 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Iowa Lawmakers Disagree on Flexible Funding for Education

Credit John Pemble / IPR

The state cost per student in Iowa’s K-12 public schools is over six thousand dollars per year - increasing steadily over the past couple decades.

The Iowa legislature is supposed to set the amount of state aid for K-12 school budgets more than a year in advance. Schools say they need the budget in advance so they can plan teacher salaries, but republican law makers are hesitant to plan the budget too far ahead.

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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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Iowa Statehouse
10:00 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Should Iowa Increase its Minimum Wage?

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
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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Music Interviews
6:59 am
Sat January 18, 2014

'Made For This': The Rootless Life Of A Roving Musician

David Dondero performs at D.G.'s Tap House in Ames, Iowa.
John Pemble

Originally published on Sat January 18, 2014 10:35 am

Guitarist and songwriter David Dondero is a transient. He's lived all over the country, from Alaska to Texas. When he's not touring, he finds work — most recently as a carpenter in California. But it never lasts. Music always finds its way back into his life.

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