Joyce Russell

Correspondent

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.

Ways To Connect

Photo by Joyce Russell/IPR

Republican Governor Terry Branstad is leaving nothing to chance as the November election draws near.

photo by Ryan Sharpstene/Hatch Campaign

With less than two weeks before the election, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch is introducing himself to voters across the state.  

Photo by Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa Fourth District Democratic congressional candidate Jim Mowrer is calling out incumbent Republican Steve King for his role in the federal government shutdown last year.   

Brendan C/Flickr

Governor  Branstad and his Democratic challenger, state senator Jack Hatch, staked out sharply different tax policies in a debate last night in Sioux City.  

Controversial new rules for  large animal confinement operations got another airing  at the statehouse Tuesday.   

Some top Republicans are getting involved in the party’s early voting campaign as the GOP strives to compete with Democrats on absentee ballots.   

Organizers of the Branstad administration’s fourth annual 1-K walk say they expect as many as half a million people to participate. 

A series of town hall meetings addressing the problem of bullying in schools wrapped up  in Marshalltown.  

Governor Branstad Monday reacted with anger to a federal judge’s ruling affecting egg production in Iowa and five other states.  The judge threw out a lawsuit challenging California’s law on how hens can be housed.  

Iowa leads the U.S. in egg production. California’s law says laying hens must have enough space to fully extend their limbs, and any state like Iowa with different standards can’t sell eggs in California. Branstad says the law violates the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. constitution:

Iowa’s two major party candidates for the state’s top elections post are staking out  contrasting views on how easy it should be to vote.  

Senior citizens grilled Iowa’s two major party candidates for governor, pressing them on issues ranging from nursing home inspections to taxes on pensions.    

The head of an  Iowa Senate committee  looking into the hiring and firing practices of the Branstad  administration is warning that the governor’s department heads may   face tough prospects for reappointment in the Iowa Senate.    

A two-day hearing got underway at the state capitol with job protections for state workers hanging in the balance.     State employees are fighting back after the Branstad administration reclassified their jobs so they can be fired without cause.   

The Branstad team changed the status of some  350 jobs in a reorganization of state government they say is legal and is saving the taxpayers money.   Administrative law judge Ann Smicek  is hearing the case of four state employees who lost their job protection.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch has suspended  television advertising in two major Iowa  media markets,  Sioux City and the Quad Cities, at least for now.   The campaign says they’re rethinking their media buys based on how many voters have requested absentee ballots.  

A debate between Governor Branstad and his Democratic challenger Jack Hatch in Burlington was  billed  as a  discussion about job creation.   But Hatch made sure he got in other  licks. 

 It was a local affair moderated by the Burlington Hawkeye, and KWQC-TV’s  Gary Metevier. 

Photo by John Pemble

 

The social activist group Nuns on the Bus got a boost today for their 36 city tour to encourage voter registration.  They are launching the trip from Des Moines accompanied by Vice-President Joe Biden.  Speaking from the terrace of the State Capitol, Biden calls for the raising of the minimum wage.  “The middle class is in real trouble.  It was devastated by this recession.  It was already losing ground the previous ten years.” says Biden.

 

Clay Masters / IPR

Former Secretary of State and one-time Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton returned to Iowa Sunday for the first time since her 3rd place finish in the Iowa Caucuses in 2008.   She was the featured speaker at retiring  Democratic Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry.  Even Harkin admitted she stole the show. 

Senator Harkin took the stage before some ten thousand activists and said this is a hell of a crowd:

“And to think you all came here just to see me,” Harkin joked with the crowd.  “Who am I kidding? You've had some steak now it’s time for some sizzle.”

Democrats in the Iowa Senate failed to stop a new rule at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services that   they say will  chip away at Iowa’s merit system of employment.    The rule would let state agencies lay off some permanent employees ahead of temporary workers in the event of a reduction in force.   

The new rule survived a challenge before the legislature’s administrative rules review committee.   DAS Human Resource Officer Michell Minnehan said sometimes it makes sense to keep temporary workers on.

Iowa’s Crime Victim Assistance Program was under scrutiny before a Republican-dominated committee at the statehouse.     The committee’s chairman says he got his questions answered about whether money was being misspent.   

The Iowa Supreme Court  ruled that the Iowa bar exam will remain a requirement to practice law in the state.    The Iowa State Bar Association had sought to  waive the exam for graduates of Iowa law schools.

A group known as Ready for Hillary is offering an all-expense paid trip to Iowa and the 37th annual Tom Harkin Steak Fry later this month.    Bill and Hillary Clinton will be the featured guests, and Hillary Clinton’s backers  want a big turnout.      

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.  

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.   

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.    

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.  

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.

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. 

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

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.     

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.     

Pages