Joyce Russell


Joyce Russell is a correspondent based at the Iowa Statehouse. Joyce has been covering the Iowa Statehouse since shortly after joining the news staff at WOI Radio in 1988. Her earlier broadcasting experience included news reporting at commercial stations in Oklahoma City and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Joyce’s reports can be heard on National Public Radio and American Public Media programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Marketplace.  She covered the last six Iowa caucus campaigns and interviewed numerous candidates for president, including some who went on to attain the highest office in the land.   

Joyce  has a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Louis University and  a master’s degree in English from the University of Oklahoma.   

Joyce’s favorite public radio program is Fresh Air.


Statehouse and Politics
7:53 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Wahlert Testifies Under Oath

The head of  Iowa Workforce Development Teresa Wahlert  took questions for nearly two hours from the Iowa Senate Oversight Committee.   One senator calls the agency dysfunctional, but Wahlert defends her leadership style.  

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Statehouse and Politics
7:32 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Judges Claim Political Interference

The Iowa Senate Oversight Committee questioned current and former judges  who rule on unemployment benefits for laid-off state workers.    Senators are  looking into allegations that management at Iowa Workforce Development favors  employers over employees in contested cases.   

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4:36 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Environmentalist Heads Agriculture Water Initiative

The head of a major environmental organization will lead  a new initiative to get farmers to comply with water quality standards.     But other  environmentalists are skeptical the new standards will work as long as they remain voluntary.    

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Statehouse and Politics
11:09 am
Mon August 25, 2014

More Scrutiny for Unemployment Fraud

Photo by Kay Henderson

State officials who oversee unemployment benefits for laid-off workers  say they are beefing up their fraud investigations, even as unemployment claims have fallen.   Half the investigative staff quit when they took advantage of an early retirement offer.  

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2:57 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Ban on Telemed Abortions Upheld

Polk County Courthouse by Jimmy Emerson

A Polk County judge today ruled in favor of the Iowa Board of Medicine on so-called telemed abortions, which involve administering medical abortions without a doctor present.   The judge upheld the Board’s ban on the procedure.

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Crime, Justice and Public Safety
3:28 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

UNI Seeks to Recover Funds in Investment Fraud

Photo by Fried Dough

The University of Northern Iowa is going to bankruptcy  court to try to get money back from the now defunct Cedar Falls-based investment fund  Peregrine Financial  group.   The firm’s CEO Russell Wasendorf, Sr. is serving a 50-year prison term for defrauding investors of more than 200 million dollars. 

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Statehouse and Politics
3:02 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Branstad and Hatch Spar over Tax Credits

photo by CleOpatra

Iowa’s major party candidates for governor  traded barbs over Democrat Jack Hatch’s career as a property developer in Des Moines.   

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Election Coverage
11:07 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Gubernatorial Candidates Debate at the Fair

Iowa’s two major party candidates for governor staked out sharply different priorities  in a debate Thursday at the Iowa State Fair.   Democrat Jack Hatch had his first chance  to go before a statewide audience with incumbent Governor Terry  Branstad. And Branstad’s long record in office  gave his challenger plenty to take potshots at.     

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Bakken Crude Shipments
3:57 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Nine Counties See Shipments of Bakken Crude

Photo by Cha gia Jose

Officials with the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management agency  released to the general public the routes rail lines take to haul crude oil through the state from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.    The rail lines are complying with a new federal mandate to report shipments of more than a million gallons.     

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Bakken Crude
10:49 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Bakken Crude Routes Revealed

Photo by Cha gia Jose

The United States Department of Transportation  has ordered the nation’s rail lines to let states know how much crude oil is coming through from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.  The  Bakken crude is especially  flammable and a number of derailments have resulted in disastrous fires.   Iowa officials are  in dispute with the rail lines about whether to release  the information to the general  public.  

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Pink Slime Returns
1:10 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Controversial Hamburger Product Returns

Photo by pointnshoot

A much-maligned beef product that’s sometimes added to  hamburger is making a comeback after a sharp decline  two years ago.    Processors cut back  on the production of  what they call finely textured beef when a nasty  nickname “pink slime” caught on in the media.   Now  demand for the product is on the rise because of high beef prices.   

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Statehouse and Politics
5:00 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Ernst Wins Republican Nomination

Joni Ernst makes her acceptance speech for the GOP US Senate nomination on June 3, 2014 at the Des Moines Social Club.
Credit Joyce Russell / IPR

After pulling ahead late in a crowded field, State Senator Joni Ernst won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate  to replace retiring Democrat Tom Harkin.    

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Duane Arnold Report
8:06 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Nuclear Plant Economic Impact Touted

Governor Branstad at Nuclear Plant

Iowa’s only nuclear power plant, the Duane Arnold Energy Center,  is observing its fortieth year in operation with the release of a report showing its economic impact in  the state.   Governor Branstad joined company officials for a celebration at the plant outside Palo.  

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Statehouse and Politics
7:33 am
Mon May 5, 2014

What Got Done in the 2014 Iowa Legislative Session?

Credit John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa Legislature adjourned last week. Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to discuss what got done this legislative year. 

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Juvenile Home
7:55 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Juvenile Home Reopening Nixed

Photo by John Pemble

A compromise budget bill  means the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo will not reopen next year.    Democrats say the  home will remain closed for the time being, regardless of the outcome of their lawsuit against the governor.  

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Site Certification Program
1:51 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Four Iowa Sites Deemed Project Ready

Iowa Certified Site Logo courtesy Iowa Department of Economic Development

The Branstad administration has spent close to half a million dollars on an initiative  designed to convince more companies to locate here rather than in another state.   Four industrial sites have been designated as project ready, a trend officials say is catching on around the country.  

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Statehouse and Politics
8:04 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Iowa Lawmakers Expect to Adjourn this Week

Credit John Pemble / IPR

The predictions are out there that Iowa's legislative session will wrap up early this week. On Mondays we check in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to make sense of everything going on up at the capitol.

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Medical Marijuana
7:43 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Medical Marijuana Bill Advances

Sally Gaer is the mother of a 24 year old diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome. Gaer says medical marijuana would help her daughter.
Credit John Pemble/IPR

A bill to allow Iowa families to travel to other states and bring back a form of medical marijuana advanced   in the Iowa Senate.   Mothers of epileptic kids pushed  hard for the legislation, saying  cannabis oil can help relieve  their children’s seizures.


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Tax Cut for Environment
7:23 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Tax Hike for Environment Advances

Democrats in the Iowa Senate  got the ball rolling on a bill that’s a dream come true for  environmentalists  and natural resource advocates.   The bill raises the state  sales tax for a natural resources trust fund that voters approved by constitutional amendment two years ago.  Backers added a tax cut​  to the bill to soften the blow.    

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DAS Secret Payments
7:02 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Administrators Grilled Over Secret Payments

The Iowa legislature’s oversight committee questioned top administrators at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services over payments made to laid-off state workers for keeping their settlements with the state confidential.   But lawmakers still don't know where the authorization for the so-called hush money came from.

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9:30 am
Mon April 14, 2014

The Week Ahead at the Statehouse

A view of the Statehouse.
John Pemble IPR

Calls for further hearings regarding secret settlements, funding for Iowa's three Regent universities and an uncertain future for anti-bullying legislation.

Statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell speaks with IPR’s Morning Edition Host Clay Masters. 

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Food Security
9:18 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Food Aid Turned Down by Legislature

Volunteers unpack donated food at the Johnson County Crisis Center in Iowa City.
Durrie Bouscaren Iowa Public Radio

In a procedural vote, the Iowa House turned down a million dollar appropriation to match private donations to Iowa’s food banks.   The legislature passed a similar measure last year, but Governor Branstad vetoed it.   One House Democrat spoke with unusual authority.   Representative Ako Abdul-Samaad  of Des Moines runs a soup kitchen as part of the Creative Visions social service agency he heads.  Here are some of his remarks.

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Tuition Freeze
9:09 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Tuition Freeze Deal Threatened

In the Iowa House, the wheels fell off an agreement to freeze tuition for another year at Iowa’s Regents Universities, but only if all three schools get  a 4% increase in state funds.   Republicans have agreed to mandate the  freeze,  but not all the schools will get their promised raise.   

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5:32 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Administrative Services Director Carroll Fired Amid Hush Money Revelations

John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

The embattled head of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services was fired today by Governor Branstad, after new evidence surfaced about confidential payments to  laid-off state workers.  

The former employees reached  settlements with the state through mediation. Director Mike Carroll told a legislative committee and the governor that his agency did not approve extra payments to workers who agreed to keep their settlements confidential.  

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Statehouse and Politics
8:12 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Debate over Confidential Settlements to State Workers Continues

Iowa's Capitol
Credit Photo by John Pemble


Almost every day last week we were getting updates on these so-called confidential settlements made by  the Branstad administration. More than 400,000 dollars has been paid out to laid off staffers.   IPR's Clay Masters gets the latest on it and other ongoing legislative issues from statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell.

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State Worker Complaints
9:25 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Fired Workers Tell Their Stories

Democrats in the Iowa Senate  heard from four former state employees who lost their jobs in what the Branstad  administration terms  a reorganization of state government.   Democrats object to what they call mass layoffs of so-called merit employees who were hired for their expertise, not their political connections.     One worker  told of receiving money for keeping her settlement private,  a practice which  Governor Branstad has now banned.   

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Bullying Bill
5:26 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Price Tag for Bullying Bill Debated

A bill on Governor Branstad’s to-do list is sparking controversy  at the statehouse.  The bill addresses the problem of bullying in the schools,  especially as it occurs on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.       But how much money to spend on the  problem remains a stumbling block.   Also,  a coalition of  conservative House Republicans has its  own ideas.    

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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
5:36 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Senator McCaskill is ISU’s Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics

Senator Claire McCaskill during a press conference in November 2013 talking about her bill designed to curb sexual assaults in the military.
Senator McCaskill's Flickr Page

There are 20 women now serving in the U.S. Senate including Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri. She is this semester’s Iowa State University Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics where Friday she delivered a lecture on the Ames campus.

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Statehouse and Politics
4:51 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Greyhound Industry Fights Racetrack Bill

Photo by Rainer Hungershausen

A three-member panel at the statehouse signed off on a  bill to end greyhound racing at casinos in Council Bluffs and Dubuque.    The casinos and the communities where they’re located say dog racing is a dying sport.  But the greyhound industry is putting up a good fight.  


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