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

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.

John Pemble /IPR file photo

The Iowa legislature is moving quickly this week on a collective bargaining bill that looks very similar to the one passed in Wisconsin back in 2011. There's a hearing Monday at 6:00 p.m. at the capitol. IPR Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talks with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell.

Iowa's bill follows the Wisconsin model more than most. That's according to one legal expert. The bill will prevent unions from negotiating for health benefits and a whole list of other benefits and workplace issues.

The Des Moines School Board has become the first in the state to adopt so-called sanctuary resolutions for immigrant and refugee students.  The seven member board voted unanimously tonight to enact two resolutions. One would give staff guidance if immigration officials inquire about a student.

John Pemble / IPR

Last week, the Iowa state Senate passed a 1.1%  increase in state financial aid to school districts for the 2017/18 academic year. They also voted to defund Planned Parenthood and create a state family planning services program.  Both bills go over to the House now.  Morning Edition Host Clay Masters spoke today with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the week ahead.

From the Black Lives Matter movement to environmentalists trying to stop new oil pipelines to the recent Women's March against President Trump, the past year has been filled with large, often spontaneous protests.

Now the reaction to those protests is appearing in a number of Republican-controlled statehouses across the country, where lawmakers are introducing proposals to increase penalties for those who block roadways while protesting.

John Pemble / IPR

A lot of action happened last week at the statehouse and it shows no sign of slowing down. Here’s what to expect going into the week.

Michael Leland/IPR

An Iowa Supreme Court ruling has found that 10 drainage districts northwest of Des Moines are not liable for potentially millions of dollars in damages. Des Moines's water utility brought the case in a novel attempt to sue other government entities for monetary damages.

Des Moines Water Works says farm runoff into the Raccoon River from drainage districts in Sac, Calhoun

John Pemble / IPR

Bills at the Iowa statehouse are still in the very early stages but IPR’s Joyce Russell is keeping watch on everything. Here’s what she says is worth noting:

The top priority right now is cutting more than $100-million from this year’s state budget. “As we’ve said,” Russell says, “Agencies including the Regents will have to come up with some significant cuts even though the year is half-over.”

John Pemble

The governor laid out what will most likely be his final Condition of the State Address last week. Lawmakers had Monday off for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, but they’re back at it on Today. Here are a few items IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell is watching.

Planned Parenthood funding is in the crosshairs of Republicans. The plan to eliminate state funding for Planned Parenthood is part of the governor’s budget and has strong Republican support.

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa legislature starts its new session on Monday. It’s the first time Republicans have controlled both chambers and the governor’s office since 1997. IPR’s Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell lays out some of the big issues at the capitol this year.

John Pemble

The long-time leader of Democrats in the Iowa Senate was voted out of office after 34 years in the legislature. Mike Gronstal, of Council Bluffs, was one of six Democrats ousted in November. Now, Republicans have a majority in the Iowa Senate. It gives the GOP control of both chambers and the governor’s office.

“If you test the issues that Democrats stand for – things like standing up for the middle-class, working for a good public schools system...and access to higher education,” Gronstal says. “I think (Democrats) do well with the citizens.”

IPR/Tony Dehner

We received around 1,800 albums this year, and we put just under 900 of those into rotation on IPR's Studio One. There's been so much incredible music released this year; it's impossible to get to all of it. Never fear! We've created a guide. 

Below, you'll find lists of favorites from 2016 from all three of IPR's Studio One Tracks hosts, alongside lists from IPR's Sean McClain and Clay Masters.

Emily Woodbury

It’s been a long election season here in Iowa, and as the dust begins to settle, there's one thing left to do: grab a pint and debrief with fellow Iowans.

On this special edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer and Clay Masters host post-election conversations in front of live audiences in Marion and Des Moines.

Clay Masters / IPR

The major presidential nominees have made their final pitch to Iowa ahead of Election Day.  Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have had very different approaches to this swing state. 

“You talked to me about the skyrocketing cost of college and prescription drugs. The quiet epidemic of addiction and mental health issues, the challenge of balancing work and family,” Clinton said at her final Iowa rally held at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines in late October.

Amy Mayer/John Pemble / IPR

Next week, Iowans will decide whether to send Republican Senator Chuck Grassley back to Washington for a seventh term. His main opponent, Democrat Patty Judge, is working to paint the senator as a leading cause for obstruction in the US Senate. 

Des Moines and Urbandale Police Departments

Police in Des Moines and Urbandale says two officers killed in ambush-style attacks this morning were likely shot before they saw their assailant.

Urbandale Officer Justin Martin, who has been with the department for about 15 months, and Des Moines Police Sgt. Anthony Beminio were killed in separate attacks, about two miles and 20-minutes apart, while sitting in their patrol cars early this morning.

Michael Leland/IPR

As Iowans prepare to cast their ballots next week, the race is on for control of the Iowa Senate where Democrats have a slim 26-24 majority.    If Republicans take enough seats to win the majority,   it will mean the GOP will be in charge of both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office for the first time since the 1996 election.   Republican Party of Iowa chair Jeff Kauffman says the two parties are competing hard in competitive districts across the state.

Pat Blank/IPR

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told a large crowd of supporters in a Cedar Rapids amphitheater last night that he was happy to hear that the FBI is reviewing newly-discovered emails related to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s private server. 

“The biggest political scandal since Watergate, and it’s everybody’s hope that justice, at last, can be delivered,”   Trump told a crowd packed into a downtown riverfront amphitheater.

Jon Pemble/IPR file

The heads of both Iowa’s Republican and Democratic parties say they’re not concerned about party unity. That’s in spite of the fact both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the least-liked presidential candidates in the history of U.S. polling.

On the Republican side of the aisle, scores of prominent GOPers are refusing to support or defend Trump. This include several Iowa state lawmakers.

But chair Jeff Kaufmann says some of these un-endorsements are politically motivated.   

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Religious voters have become increasingly divided this election season, with a survey this Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute showing White Catholics favoring Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump 46 to 42 percent. Conversely, Evangelicals have stayed steady in their support of Trump: in that same survey there was no significant change in White Evangelical Protestants support for Trump, with 65 percent of them still supporting the Republican nominee.

Clay Masters/IPR

Former President Bill Clinton kicked off a bus tour in Iowa today, encouraging voters to vote early for his wife, Hillary Clinton. Early voting began in the state last month.

The rally at Simpson College began with U.S. Agriculture Secretary and Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack listing Midwest Republicans who have distanced themselves from their presidential nominee.

“There are senators from Nebraska and from South Dakota that have disavowed Donald Trump but unfortunately and tragically not the senators from Iowa,” he said.

The Ethanol Effect

Oct 7, 2016
Clay Masters / IPR

A new PBS documentary focusing on the impact of ethanol production airs this weekend on Iowa Public Television. IPR's Clay Masters speaks with environmental and energy reporter David Biello about his new documentary "The Ethanol Effect". 

Clay Masters/IPR

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders campaigned at Drake University in Des Moines today on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“I’m here to say vote for Hillary Clinton on Election Day and the day after that we’re going to roll up our sleeves and make sure that we bring forth the most progressive agenda in the history of the United States of America,” Sanders said.

Sanders did well with young voters in last February’s Iowa caucuses, and narrowly lost to Clinton.  That group has been a crucial voting bloc for Democrats in past presidential elections. 

Clay Masters / IPR

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton campaigned in Iowa Des Moines today, the same day early voting for the November election began in Iowa, and a day after her main opponent, Republican Donald Trump, campaigned in Council Bluffs.

Clinton spoke to hundreds of supporters on at Cowles Commons plaza in downtown Des Moines, asking them if they were ready to go to the polls.

“Well, luckily in Iowa you can start today, lots of folks don’t have that opportunity across the country,” she said.

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa voters can start casting their ballots by mail today. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been campaigning in this state this week like it’s their last chance. Because with many voters it may be. Hillary Clinton campaigns in Des Moines today while Donald Trump was in Council Bluffs on Wednesday.

Iowa’s Secretary of State says he expects more than 35% of Iowa ballots to be cast early starting today. Republicans here have seen a slight increase in voters requesting absentee ballots since 2012, while Democrats have seen a big drop off.

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