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.

Ways to Connect

Clay Masters / IPR

Every four years, politicians and the reporters who cover them spend months in Iowa wooing voters ahead of the February caucuses. There's inevitably lots of photo ops with grain silos and corn fields in the background, not to mention interviews with weathered farmers who are supposed to stand in for the state's two million registered voters. Iowans will do plenty of eye-rolling this campaign, but many have developed a sense of humor about those stereotypes. Mike Draper, owner of RAYGUN in Des...

John Pemble/IPR

UPDATE: 6/1/2015 3:00 p.m. House Republicans and Senate Democrats released more details of the budget agreement reached last week. JOINT TARGETS FY16 Administration and Regulation $ 51,795,769 Agriculture and Natural Resources $ 43,111,995 Economic Development $ 42,250,763 Education $ 992,236,365 Health and Human Services $1,839,390,492 Justice System $ 735,791,531 Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals $ 0 Unassigned Standings $3,463,567,719
GRAND TOTAL $7,168,144,634 One-time...

Clay Masters / IPR

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced he’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination Saturday in Baltimore. “So let me ask a question of Des Moines, Iowa,” shouted without a microphone to the packed crowd in a small campaign office just outside downtown Des Moines. “Are you ready to take your country forward!?” O’Malley was once mayor of Baltimore; where recently the police killing of Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man lead to riots. O’Malley says as mayor he drove...

Clay Masters / IPR

Coventry Health Care is currently the only health insurance provider offering subsidized coverage through the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act in Iowa. The Urbandale-based company says it wants to raise rates to its customers by at least 18 percent. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart says Coventry likely took on more risk than they projected. He predicts rates will rise for current policyholders who have purchased the subsidized coverage through Healthcare.gov . “Unfortunately...

Photo Courtesy of Rick Fredericksen

The Iowa Public Radio series Iowa Archives turns 8 this year and the project's producer, IPR's Rick Fredericksen , has tapped a lot of what's readily available and he's asking listeners for any old sound they might have. Fredericksen recaps some of Iowa Archive's highlights with Morning Edition Host Clay Masters. Fredericksen will host an hour special featuring the best of Iowa Archives music on Memorial Day at 10 a.m. If you have some audio Rick might find interesting, e-mail him at...

Photo by John Pemble

State lawmakers return to the capitol today for their third week of overtime, while the two parties remain divided over the state budget for the fiscal year that starts in July. Most of the work this week will be behind closed doors as the House, the Senate, and the Governor’s office strive toward a budget agreement. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R- Hiawatha) says House Republicans have not signed on to a tentative agreement on funding for K-12 schools. "There are some who are supportive, some...

John Pemble / IPR

The Annual Iowa Republican Lincoln Dinner is Saturday and with it comes another cattle call of Republican presidential hopefuls. IPR Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talks with Associated Press Politics and State Government Reporter Catherine Lucey about how this event differs from other Republican presidential gatherings in recent months. They also discuss Democratic presidential candidate and front-runner Hillary Clinton's upcoming trip to the state.

John Pemble / IPR

Week after week it’s looked like no compromise was in sight between the state’s Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican majority House over K-12 funding, but a tentative agreement looks promising that lawmakers have figured out how much to fund schools for the coming year. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to preview the week ahead at the Iowa capitol.

Clay Masters / IPR

Recently announced Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is campaigning in Iowa Thursday. She’s one of a number of GOP candidates who have officially announced they’re running for president this week to swing through the first-in-the-nation caucus state. Former Arkansas Governor and winner of the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses Mike Huckabee wrapped up an early swing through the state on Wednesday night in a barn at Living History Farms in Urbandale. ...

Photo by John Pemble

Legislators remain at odds over the main function of the Iowa General Assembly -- coming up with a state spending plan. For example, the two parties have been wrangling since January over how much state aid to forward to Iowa's public schools for the school year that begins in August "I’m wearing a pink tie today in solidarity with children and families of the state of Iowa who are going to have more crowded, more kids will fall thru the cracks and more programs are going to be dropped,"...

Photo Courtesy of the artist

Rocky Votolato is a Seattle Washington-based Singer and Songwriter. He got his start in music more than twenty years ago in a punk band with his brother Wax Wing. After it disbanded he started performing solo. He took a break from writing and his latest record, “Hospital Handshakes,” has a similar sound to his old material. A couple years ago Votolato thought he was done with music. He wasn’t very proud of his last record, Television of Saints, and he decided to get a job; that ultimately...

John Pemble / IPR

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s oral arguments this week over same-sex marriage, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst says she hopes the high court rules in favor of giving states the right to determine who can marry. The topic of same-sex marriage came up last weekend when nine GOP presidential hopefuls made stump speeches at a church in Waukee. The freshman Iowa Republican says she didn’t hear all of the candidates this weekend but she says she is holding her position that marriage should be between...

Clay Masters / IPR

Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio made his first appearance in Iowa after officially announcing he's running for his party's nomination. He was one of nine Republican Presidential hopefuls who spoke at a church in Waukee, a suburb of Des Moines, on Saturday evening. Rubio is one of three Republicans who have officially thrown their hat in the ring. The presidential hopefuls talked a lot about foreign policy and social issues at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum. Senator Marco...

Clay Masters / IPR

Governor Terry Branstad’s plan to privatize parts of the state’s Medicaid system is moving forward. Medicaid is the healthcare program for low income Iowans; that represents $4.2 billion in state and federal spending. The Department of Human Services estimates privatization will save about 50-million-dollars in the first six months. The Branstad administration says savings will come from avoiding duplication of services and offering better preventative care. But Senate President Pam Jochum, a...

John Pemble / IPR

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. “We have great confidence in the (court) system and those who are part of that system," says Water Works CEO Bill Stowe. ...

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...

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. "We would get a lot of envelopes back in the...

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. Right now there’s no regulation requiring that Iowa farmers address the water leaving...

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. DHS Director Chuck Palmer tells lawmakers the managed care plan will save more than 51-million dollars. He says it’ll reduce duplication of services, unnecessary hospitalizations and promote a more efficient delivery of healthcare to low-income Iowans on this joint federal state program....

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. “We’re living in this day and age where people look at their phones,” Jurado says. “ I went to a Black Keys show...

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...

Wikimedia Commons

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.

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