Katarina Sostaric

Eastern Iowa Reporter

Katarina Sostaric is an Iowa City based reporter covering Eastern Iowa for Iowa Public Radio.

Before coming to Iowa, she was a reporter and host at a public radio station in Southeast Alaska, where her work also aired on Alaska’s statewide public radio network.

Katarina worked as a Morning Edition news anchor and general assignment reporter at KBIA in Columbia while she was a student

at the Missouri School of Journalism. She has bachelor’s degrees in Convergence Journalism and International Studies from the University of Missouri.

Katarina’s favorite public radio program is Reveal.

university of iowa
Vladimir Kulikov / Wikimedia Commons

Five faith-based student organizations have filed a brief in support of a Christian group that is suing the University of Iowa for religious discrimination.

Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) filed a lawsuit in federal court last month claiming UI penalized the group because of its religious beliefs concerning human sexuality. The university ended BLinC’s status as a registered student organization after it allegedly denied a leadership position to a gay student.

John Pemble / IPR file photo

Congress faces a deadline Friday to pass a budget or a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown. Iowa’s senior senator says multiple issues are caught up in the current impasse.

One of those is the status of young adults living under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Republican Chuck Grassley says he supports “legalizing” immigrants brought to the United States illegally by their parents, if that’s paired with other restrictions on immigration. 

capitol
John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa Senate Republicans on Friday released recommendations made to them to ensure a safe workplace at the Iowa Capitol. The report was commissioned after taxpayers covered a $1.75 million sexual harassment settlement against Senate Republicans in October 2017.

gavel
Wikimedia Commons

The State of Iowa asked a Polk County judge Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a former Iowa State University student alleging ISU did not properly investigate her sexual assault complaint.

Iowa Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson says the lawsuit should be dismissed because the events described fall outside the two-year statute of limitations. The alleged sexual misconduct occurred in 2013.

kim reynolds
John Pemble / IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds called for tax reform Tuesday in her first Condition of the State address before the Iowa Legislature.

Reynolds says her proposal will include personal income tax cuts for this year. She says she also wants to reduce corporate taxes, but "this is not the year" because of a tight state budget.

After a federal tax overhaul passed late last year, Reynolds is proposing eliminating Iowans’ ability to deduct their federal taxes from their state income taxes.

syringe
WerbeFabrik / Pixabay

State and federal public health officials agree Iowa needs a syringe exchange program to slow the spread of hepatitis C and prevent a possible HIV outbreak among Iowans who inject opioids and meth.

legislative leaders
Clay Masters / IPR

Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, says the state’s privatized Medicaid system needs to be "in a better position" before the end of the upcoming legislative session.

Iowa’s handover of its Medicaid system to private companies in 2016 has led to patients losing services and providers losing payment.

pills in a bottle
nosheep / Pixabay

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy has filed a bill that would help fill gaps in the state’s system for tracking prescription opioid suppliers in an effort to identify patients who might be abusing prescription painkillers.

Pharmacies currently have to submit information to the Iowa prescription monitoring program (PMP) when they dispense opioids. The pharmacy board’s bill would require prescribers who supply opioids to also add that information to the PMP.

doctors office
Jennifer Morrow / flickr

More than 56,000 Iowans are enrolled in an individual health insurance plan for 2018 through the Affordable Care Act, according to Medica, the only insurance company left on Iowa's ACA exchange. 

An Iowa Insurance Division spokesman says that number is, "roughly in line with the 18,000 to 22,000 [consumers] we expected to leave the market." 

pills in a bottle
nosheep / Pixabay

The number of opioid-related deaths is expected to increase in Iowa this year compared to 2016. There were 180 opioid-related deaths in Iowa last year, and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is projecting that number will hit 201 by the end of 2017.

Eighty-six Iowans died of opioid overdoses in 2016, and IDPH expects about 96 opioid overdose deaths in 2017. 

johnson county building
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Johnson County is continuing to advocate for a higher minimum wage despite the Iowa Legislature’s reversal of local wage increases earlier this year.

Two economists involved with the county's Minimum Wage Advisory Committee told the board of supervisors Thursday the county has not seen adverse impacts from raising its minimum wage to $10.10.

chuck grassley
John Pemple/IPR file photo

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley says he is not questioning the White House’s vetting of potential federal judges after three judicial nominees were recently rejected. 

Grassley says it’s not that the rejected nominees lack legal capabilities, rather, they "probably lack good judgment." 

"And you want judges that are going to have good judgment—more important, a better word would be judicial temperament, meaning they’re going to leave their own views out of cases," Grassley says. 

foxhoven
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven says the state can fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) into April.

Congress has yet to renew federal funding for the program, which is called hawk-i in Iowa. It provides health insurance for about 60,000 kids from low and moderate income families in the state.

Foxhoven says he thinks CHIP will be reauthorized, but he says Congress has been unpredictable.

grinnell walk
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Five years after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, some Grinnell residents are asking their neighbor, the president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), to speak with them about curbing gun violence.

Iowan Pete Brownell is CEO of Brownells, an international firearm business with a large warehouse and retail store in Grinnell. He was elected president of the NRA in May.

university of iowa
Vladimir Kulikov / Wikimedia Commons

A now-defunct student organization is suing the University of Iowa in federal court for religious discrimination. Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) lost its status as a registered student organization after it allegedly denied a leadership position to a gay student. 

According to the lawsuit, BLinC told a member he wasn’t eligible for a leadership position because "his decision to enter into same-sex relationships was inconsistent with BLinC's religious beliefs."

ipers press conference
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Two Democrats say the upcoming legislative session may threaten retirement benefits for Iowa’s public employees. State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald and State Senator Matt McCoy say there are signs that Republicans want to make major changes to the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System (IPERS) next year.

"Some current legislative proposals to change IPERS, including a bill that was introduced last session, could break the promise we have made toward hardworking Iowans," Fitzgerald says. 

astrid gale
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Cameras and smiles were flashing at a Cedar Rapids church Saturday as more than a thousand people filed in to get their photos taken.

Parents and assistants were snapping, clapping, waving squeaky toys and stuffed animals, and talking about farts—anything to get stubborn kids to crack a smile.

Valerie Jedlicka’s family was trying to wrangle two toddlers in matching red and black plaid. After her family’s photo session in a church classroom-turned-portrait studio, Jedlicka says she’s thankful for the opportunity to create happy memories.

brad hart
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Brad Hart was elected mayor of Cedar Rapids Tuesday night.

Hart won 54 percent of the vote against Monica Vernon in the runoff election for Cedar Rapids mayor.

Hart is an attorney, and this was his first run for public office. He says voters may have wanted someone with a new perspective.

"We tried to get a message out that we’re going to be inclusive and accessible and just make the best decisions we can, and I think that resonated," Hart says.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Progressive groups are protesting outside of Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Des Moines and Waterloo offices Tuesday evening because of a comment he made related to the estate tax.

Grassley told The Des Moines Register scaling back the estate tax would recognize people who are investing as opposed to "those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies." The comment went viral on social media.

doctors office
Jennifer Morrow / flickr

It’s one month into the sign-up period for the Affordable Care Act, and the number of Iowans who have signed up for health insurance is much higher than at this time last year.

police car
Diego Parra / Pixabay

Four civil rights groups are asking the Iowa Supreme Court to ban pretextual traffic stops on the grounds they are unconstitutional and perpetuate racial disparities in the criminal justice system. 

A pretextual traffic stop is when a police officer stops a driver for a minor issue like a broken taillight with the intent to investigate a suspected criminal offense. 

"African-Americans and other Iowans of color are more likely to be stopped, and that’s what we’re trying to prevent," says Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP. 

money
Jericho/Wikimedia Commons

Republican proposals to overhaul the federal tax code would give most Iowa households a tax cut next year, but the cuts would phase out for many by 2027.

Iowa Policy Project Executive Director Mike Owen says the middle class, on average, would get a tax cut in the next fiscal year.

"As time goes on, the much-advertised middle class aspects of this, which are a very small piece of the puzzle, are going to go away," Owen says. "And the big breaks will remain in place for very wealthy millionaire, billionaire families and for wealthy corporations."

doctors office
Jennifer Morrow / flickr

Iowa’s largest health system is considering ending its contract with one of the two remaining companies that insure Medicaid patients in the state.

UnityPoint Health announced Wednesday it will end its contract with Amerigroup if "contract issues" are not resolved by the end of the year. Amerigroup is one of the two remaining companies that participate in Iowa’s privatized Medicaid program.

Clay Masters/Iowa Public Radio

Scientists serving as advisers to the Environmental Protection Agency are finding out from news stories that they’ve been removed or demoted.

Many of these scientists come from academia, and they say they’re being replaced by scientists from industries regulated by the EPA

Professor Peter Thorne heads the University of Iowa’s Department of Occupational and Environmental Health. Until recently, he also chaired the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, the agency’s most prominent advising body.

Doc Searls

Iowa City public schools will stop using small, padded seclusion rooms by the start of the next school year.

The decision—announced Tuesday—comes after a state investigation found some improper use of these rooms and ordered the district to make changes. Schools use the rooms to temporarily isolate students who are at risk of harming themselves or others.

Iowa City Community School District Superintendent Stephen Murley says the district’s goal is to move away from using these tiny rooms for seclusion.

monica vernon
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Monica Vernon and Brad Hart will face each other in a runoff election for Cedar Rapids mayor next month.

None of the eight candidates got more than 50 percent of the vote Tuesday, which is required to win.

Vernon, a businesswoman and former city council member, led the field with 30 percent of the vote. She says giving out her phone number and having conversations with Cedar Rapids residents has been central to her campaign.

jorge sanders-galvez
John Lovretta / The Hawk Eye

Jorge Sanders-Galvez has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2016 killing of a gender-fluid teen.

Prosecutors say he aided and abetted Jaron Purham in the murder of 16-year-old Kedarie Johnson in Burlington.

The jury submitted a verdict after less than two hours of deliberation in Keokuk.

Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers says she was somewhat surprised with the speed of the jury’s decision, but she thinks it was the right decision.

gavel
SalFalko / Flickr

At a hearing Thursday in Johnson County court, attorneys debated whether the state’s new "stand your ground" law allows for immunity from prosecution in self-defense cases.

The issue came up after an August shooting in Iowa City’s downtown pedestrian mall. Lamar Wilson is charged with murder, attempted murder and gang participation in the case.

courtesy Iowans for Sam Clovis

Updated Nov. 2--U.S. Department of Agriculture nominee Sam Clovis of Iowa withdrew from consideration to be the agency's top scientist amid questions about his connection to the Russia probe. 

Clovis sent a letter to President Trump asking for his name to be withdrawn. 

John Pemble / IPR

A lawsuit against the Board of Regents in the recruiting and hiring of the University of Iowa president has been dismissed.

The lawsuit accused five current and former regents of breaking the state’s open meetings law by scheduling private meetings to recruit UI President Bruce Harreld. The regents asked the court dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that a majority of the board was never present at the same time during the back-to-back meetings on one day in 2015.

The court has sided with the regents.

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