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.

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Sen. Joni Ernst told constituents in Elkader Monday that health care has been the biggest topic at town hall meetings, and Congress needs to work hard on new health care legislation.

She says she is worried the one remaining statewide health insurance carrier on Iowa's individual market will be free to raise its prices or will also pull out of the state.

Ernst says there is a new plan in the works to replace the Affordable Care Act, and she hopes it is ready before open enrollment starts for 2018.

roxanna moritz
Kayla Trail / The Great Scott Times

Four Democratic county auditors say they are considering running for secretary of state in 2018.

They all say they are concerned about a voter ID bill working its way through the legislature and with how Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate has promoted it.

Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz is considering entering the race. 

opioid panel
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Opioid and substance abuse experts called for a community-based, comprehensive solution to the growing problem of opioid dependence in Linn County during a panel discussion Thursday.  

Hospitalizations for opioid abuse more than doubled in Linn County from 2015 to 2016. There were more than 870 hospital admissions in the county for opioid overdose treatment last year.  

Linn County Public Health statistics show the rate of opioid prescription-related deaths in Linn County is slightly higher than the state’s.

rvap
Rape Victim Advocacy Program

Iowa organizations that provide services to victims of sexual violence say they face potential funding cuts at the state and federal levels.

A cut to state funding for victim services is being discussed as a way to help make up for a budget deficit. Federal funding decreases may come as part of proposed budget reductions at the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Executive Director Adam Robinson of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) in Iowa City said these cuts would be catastrophic for victim services. 

wellmark building
Tony Webster / flickr

Iowa’s insurance commissioner is urging customers with individual health insurance policies to stay calm after Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield decided to stop selling individual plans. 

Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said he is disappointed with Wellmark's decision. It affects more than 21,000 Iowans who bought individual Obamacare-compliant plans from Wellmark after the start of 2014. Those customers will have to find a new insurance plan for 2018. 

laura taylor of woofables
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa’s minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour in all counties. Gov. Branstad has signed a bill maintaining that wage level and barring any county or local government from setting a higher minimum.

Five counties have already done that, including Johnson County, which has the highest minimum wage in the state. But the new law does not necessarily mean workers who have recently gotten raises will be taking a pay cut.

Laura Taylor is the owner of Woofables, a gourmet dog treat bakery in Coralville.

johnson county building
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A Johnson County supervisor said he is disappointed in the Legislature’s decision to pass a bill prohibiting local governments from setting their own minimum wages.  

Johnson County has the highest minimum wage in the state at $10.10. It would be set back to $7.25 if Gov. Terry Branstad signs the preemption bill into law.

Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan said he thinks it is a mistake for the state to “usurp local control.”

mother mosque circle
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A few hundred people gathered at North America’s longest-standing mosque in Cedar Rapids Sunday to show support for the Muslim community. 

Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Native American and atheist leaders spoke to a crowd at the Mother Mosque of America about equality, acceptance and love.

The interfaith rally was held to counteract recent hate crimes and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Mother Mosque Imam Taha Tawil thanked the participants for supporting tolerance and religious freedom.

University of Iowa College of Public Health

A new report from the State Health Registry of Iowa shows the rate of new liver cancer cases has tripled in the state since the 1970s.

According to the "Cancer in Iowa" report released Wednesday, new cases of liver cancer were detected in six of 100,000 Iowans in the period from 2010 to 2014. 

rod blum
Rod Blum for Congress

Iowa Republican Representative Rod Blum said Tuesday he will not support the House GOP’s health care plan in its current form.

The 1st District congressman tweeted that the American Health Care Act “doesn’t do enough to lower premiums for hardworking Americans.”

The repeal and replacement of much of Obamacare is supposed to get a vote on the House floor on Thursday. Dozens of Republican House members oppose the bill or have expressed major concerns.

President Trump met with House Republicans Tuesday to urge them to pass the health care bill.

cessna plane
DLR German Aerospace Center

Three Iowa airports could lose commercial air service under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.

Airports in Burlington, Fort Dodge and Mason City depend on federal subsidies to provide regular flights to major cities in the Midwest. Trump has proposed eliminating the Essential Air Service program, which makes those flights possible.

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst fielded several questions about health care today at a town hall-style meeting in Cedar Rapids.

Several questioners among the 1,000 or so people in the auditorium at Coe College pushed her to state her position on the House GOP health care plan.

"I can't say today whether I support it or don't support it," Ernst said. 

Ernst added the plan does not solve all health care issues.

cedar river
Braden Kopf / Vimeo

An effort to improve water quality and decrease flood risks on the Cedar River will “ramp up” this year.

Cedar Rapids Utilities Director Steve Hershner made the announcement Tuesday at a water quality discussion.

The quality of Cedar Rapids' drinking water is influenced by nutrient levels in the Cedar River.

jones and mitchell dash cam
YouTube

A man who was shot by a Cedar Rapids police officer last fall is suing the city. Jerime Mitchell has been paralyzed from the neck down since the shooting, which happened during a traffic stop in November.

Mitchell and his wife are suing the city and Officer Lucas J0nes for negligence, “reckless, willful and wanton” actions, assault and battery, infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium.

The details of the shooting presented in the lawsuit are very different from those made public by county and state authorities late last year.

keokuk, iowa
WIKICOMMONS / Billwhittaker

The Lee County Board of Supervisors will consider an ordinance Tuesday that would raise the county’s minimum wage to $8.20.

Meanwhile, a bill working its way through the Iowa Legislature would prohibit minimum wage increases by local governments. The Iowa House of Representatives passed the bill on to the Senate last week.

robert james waller
Courtesy of Scott Cawelti

Iowa-born author Robert James Waller has died in Texas at the age of 77. He wrote “The Bridges of Madison County,” which topped the New York Times bestseller list in 1993.

The book was turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. Waller wrote the novel, which was his first, after photographing covered bridges in Madison County, Iowa.

Scott Cawelti, a longtime friend of Waller, said he died of complications related to cancer. 

refugees
Steve Evans/Wikimedia Commons

Refugee resettlement groups in Iowa are trying to determine how the new version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban will affect their clients.

The new travel ban maintains the 50 percent cut in total refugee arrivals to the U.S. this year, and that cut is reflected in refugee resettlement efforts in Iowa.

Handi Lutfi speaks at minimum wage rally
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A crowd gathered in downtown Iowa City Wednesday to protest a bill that would reverse minimum wage increases in four Iowa counties.

Protesters chanted, “Can’t survive on $7.25,” because the minimum wage would be set back to the federal and state level of $7.25. Johnson County’s minimum wage is currently $10.10 an hour.

Handi Lutfi said when Johnson County raised its minimum wage, her family’s income was brought above the poverty line.

A Latino advocacy group is warning undocumented immigrants in Iowa to watch out for federal agents, following a string of immigration arrests in the state.

The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa (LULAC) reported several recent arrests this week in a news release.

LULAC National Vice President for the Midwest Joe Enriquez Henry said he is concerned about possible racial profiling by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

johnson county building
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Johnson County will not assist in federal immigration raids or honor voluntary detainer requests. That is according to a statement made Monday by the county’s Board of Supervisors and Sheriff’s Office.

The statement replaces a similar resolution that was coming up for a vote Tuesday. It maintains that county resources will not be used for enforcing federal immigration laws.

johnson county building
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on a resolution that would prevent county resources from being used to enforce immigration laws.

Under the draft resolution, the sheriff’s office would not actively try to detect undocumented immigrants. Johnson County would also refuse to detain people based on requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This does not prevent federal agents from enforcing immigration laws in the county.

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