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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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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Statehouse and Politics
5:54 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Iowa Politicians Save Venom for 2014 Elections

The Iowa State Capitol on the opening day of the 2014 Iowa legislative session.
Credit John Pemble / IPR

The first of the 2014 legislative session comes to a close today, perhaps overshadowed by Governor Terry Branstad announcing he’s running for reelection. Many state lawmakers have their eye on looming national and state elections. Associated Press Statehouse and Political Reporter Catherine Lucey talks with IPR’s Clay Masters about how Iowa politics are shaping up at outset of 2014.  

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Statehouse and Politics
4:01 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Minimum Wage Increase and Income Tax Cuts hoped for in 2014 Session

The Iowa State Capitol
John Pemble IPR

Host Clay Masters sits down with legislative leaders on opening day of the 2014 session, to discuss priorities.  Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, leads the only democratically-controlled chamber in Iowa's divided state government.  Representative Linda Upmeyer is Majority Leader in the republican-controlled House.  Each said lawmakers are not likely to tackle major issues this session, but also left open the possibility of taking up some big ideas.  We've listed those ideas below.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs

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Statehouse and Politics
5:52 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Will the 2014 Legislative Session Be as Productive as Last Year?

The Iowa State Capitol on the last day of the 2013 legislative session.
Credit John Pemble / IPR

Today is the first day of the 2014 Iowa legislative session. It’s an election year, which usually means the time lawmakers meet will be short so people can go run for re-election. IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell talks with Clay Masters about the 2014 legislative session. 

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Year in Review
2:24 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Top IPR Reporter Picks of 2013

2013 has been a busy year for Iowa Public Radio's news team. Today on River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with reporters and correspondents about some of the most meaningful and challenging stories they covered. It's a "reporter's notebook" edition of the show.

Here is a list of the full features heard on today's show:

January 10 - Undocumented Immigrants at University

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Shots - Health News
3:21 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Iowa Opens The Doors To Medicaid Coverage, On Its Own Terms

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 4:52 pm

At the Central Iowa Shelter and Services in Des Moines, Iowa, health insurance navigator Andrea Pearce stood in a crowded dining hall on a recent day, shouting instructions on how residents can sign up for Medicaid.

"If you do not have insurance and you want to enroll and you have an e-mail address where you know the password," she said, "come to the computer lab we will guide you through the application."

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Health
5:20 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Iowa Medicaid Alternative Shows Fed's Flexibility

Jerry Gross, who's 56 and homeless, waits in line at the Central Shelter and Services to talk with a healthcare navigator.
Credit John Pemble / IPR

More than twenty states have refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, leaving many Americans below the poverty line with few health insurance options. Some states are coming up with their own low-income health plans which would give them some of the federal money set aside for Medicaid expansions while writing their own rules. Federal authorities approved Iowa’s alternative proposal. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports… the rest of the country is taking note. 

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Studio One
7:45 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Mason Jennings Talks About His New Record 'Always Been'

Mason Jennings talks about his new record, called "Always Been," in IPR's Des Moines studios.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Minnesota Singer/Songwriter Mason Jennings has been performing for almost two decades. Over the years he's recorded for record labels run by Jack Johnson and Isaac Brock of the band Modest Mouse. For his latest record, called "Always Been," Jennings recruited Iowa music veteran Bo Ramsey to produce. Jennings stopped by IPR earlier this fall to talk to Clay Masters about his new record. "Always Been" is this week's "CD of the Week" on Studio One.  

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Business and Economy
5:14 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Regional Airport Project Experiences Turbulence

Rob Hammann stands by a large shed on his property where his wife, Robin, has written a phrase protesting the regional airport.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Plans to build a new regional airport are underway in south central Iowa’s Mahaska County. Two existing airports – in Oskaloosa and Pella would close – and a new consolidated one would provide services to large companies in the area. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports on the fight over whether or not a new regional airport will help the area economy. 

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Environment
3:20 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Iowa Politicians Critical of Investigative AP Report on Ethanol

Credit Sarah McCammon

Critics are challenging an investigative report by the Associated Press that says ethanol production is damaging the environment. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, the debate comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is getting closer to finalizing how much ethanol will be blended into gasoline in 2014. 

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:06 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Feeding the Organic Supply Chain

Farmer Tom Frantzen proudly takes pictures of his corn crop near New Hampton, Iowa on October 10, 2013.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Organic food is a hot market in the U.S. The Organic Trade Association says that sales over the last five years have grown 35 percent. But there’s a problem in the supply chain – not enough organic grain.

Many producers in the farm belt aren’t willing to take on organic production despite a hefty price premium. That has left organic food companies scrambling to find enough raw ingredients for the products that hit grocery store shelves. Just as corn and soybeans dominate conventional processed food and meat, these same grains are often key ingredients for organic foods.

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Environment
4:15 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Urban Wetlands Play a Part in Improving Iowa Water Quality

The Raccoon River in Des Moines.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

 Iowa homeowners and municipalities can use urban wetlands to capture nutrients that pollute state waterways and improve water quality. That’s according to a new report out Wednesday. But researchers say it would only be a small part of improving the state’s water quality.

The amount of pollution municipalities put into the state’s rivers and streams are regulated. This new report from the Iowa Policy Project documents what else cities and homeowners to reduce polluted storm runoff. 

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Statehouse and Politics
5:39 am
Thu October 24, 2013

GOP Candidates Establish Themselves in First Senate Primary Debate

Credit Iowa GOP Facebook

The half dozen Republican candidates in the 2014 primary race for U.S. Senate met Wednesday night in Des Moines for a debate. But as Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports it wasn’t much of a debate… more of a chance for voters to figure out who’s running.

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Environment
2:59 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Environmentally Sensitive ‘Driftless’ Region Highlights CAFO Concerns

Chris Wasta fly fishes on Bear Creek in Winneshiek County, Iowa. The trout stream is a region of the Midwest known as the 'driftless' region.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

   

Thanks to tight competition, hog farmers are feeling a push to expand or get out of the business. That means indoor confined animal feeding operations – or CAFOs – are growing even in the most environmentally sensitive areas.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
4:45 am
Fri October 18, 2013

2013 World Food Prize Laureates Stir up GMO Controversy

Protestors gather on the west side of the Iowa State Capitol to protest the laureates.
Clay Masters IPR

  The World Food Prize is commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize of Agriculture. This year it went to three biotechnology pioneers and infuriated environmental groups. The award winners were honored Thursday in Des Moines. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports.

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