Governor Branstad

Save Medicaid Action

Democrats in the Iowa Senate today ratcheted up their challenge to Governor Branstad’s plan to privatize Medicaid, the state’s health care program for the low-income and disabled.  

They introduced a bill to repeal the initiative, but Republicans are standing by the Governor’s proposal.  

Democrats say privatizing Medicaid will disrupt long-standing relations between patients and providers and compromise patient care.   Their bill would cancel the contracts with three for-profit, out of state companies chosen to manage the program.     

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Branstad’s proposal to pay for millions of dollars in water quality improvements now has some competition in the Iowa House and it’s coming from the governor’s fellow Republicans. 

Branstad wants to extend a penny sales tax for schools that is set to expire. 

The tax currently goes into a special fund for school infrastructure.  

Under Branstad’s plan, some of the growth in the fund would be used to clean up Iowa’s waterways.  

House Education Committee Chair, Republican Ron Jorgensen, says he needs more information on the governor’s proposal.

Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad today defended his call for Republicans to vote against Texas Senator Ted Cruz in next week’s caucuses.  

Branstad objects that Cruz opposes ethanol mandates.  

Branstad typically does not endorse candidates in Republican races, and he says he’s sticking to that this year.

“I’m not backing any candidate,” Branstad says.  “I'm advocating on behalf of my state and renewable energy which is critically important to our state.”

Branstad has long urged all candidates to come to Iowa early and often.   But he says there are limits.

John Pemble

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad unveiled a major initiative this week – a plan to increase funding for water quality. 

The governor teamed up with former Democratic governor and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to support a proposal that would extend the one-cent sales tax currently spent on school infrastructure. While the plan would extend the sales tax, most of the inflationary growth would be diverted to finance water quality projects. Critics say that money should go only to education infrastructure.

IowaPolitics.com

Now that he’s been recognized as the longest-serving governor in U.S. history, Governor Branstad says he has not decided whether to run for a seventh term in 2018.   

Branstad has made clear he’s grooming Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds to become the state’s first female governor.     

However, he says he won’t decide until election year, following the lead of Governor Ray back in 1982.

“He was very popular and I was his third lieutenant governor,” Branstad says.  “He didn’t make the decision until February of the election year not to seek reelection.”

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad met wellwishers in his formal office this morning on his 7,640th day in office.   That makes him the longest-serving governor in U.S. history.  

Childhood friends and longtime supporters came to the open house to congratulate Branstad on the milestone.  

Branstad explains his longevity this way.

"Growing up on a farm and learning to work hard at an early age," Branstad says.  "I had great teachers who encouraged me to go into public service."

Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad Monday opened the door to the possibility of settling Syrian refugees in Iowa if a bill before Congress to tighten screening procedures becomes law.  

The bill would require that the director of the FBI and other top security officials approve all applicants from Syria and Iraq and assure they pose no threat.   

Otherwise, Branstad says letting the refugees in is not safe.

“If instead we're working as a country I'd feel much safer and more willing to do that,” Branstad says. 

General Frank Grass/flickr

Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered a review of security at all Iowa National Guard facilities including recruiting stations after last week’s fatal shooting of Marine and Navy personnel in Chattanooga, Tenn. 

The Chattanooga shootings began at a recruiting station and ended at a military base, killing five people. In several states governors ordered the arming of guardsmen and women at recruiting stations and other facilities after the fatal attack.  

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Branstad Thursday vetoed millions of dollars in state spending the legislature approved last month, saying some of the appropriations are unsustainable. 

He trimmed back the more than seven billion dollar state budget for the fiscal year that started this week. 

The vetoes cut education spending for K-12 schools, community colleges, and the Regents Universities.  

Education advocates call the K-12 cuts shameful.   Regents President Bruce Rastetter says they’ll begin considering what tuition levels should be next spring. 

John Pemble/IPR

Governor Branstad is hearing from county attorneys around the state, as he debates whether to sign a last-minute item in a catch-all spending bill.  

The provision would privatize the collection of court fines and fees to bring in an estimated $12 million more next year.    

The Judicial Branch has pushed to improve the collection of delinquent fines.  The bill would bypass the state’s Central Collection Unit and assign the work to a private debt collector.   

Joyce Russell/IPR file photo

Governor Branstad says last week’s momentous U.S. Supreme Court ruling will not have a big impact in Iowa, since same-sex marriage has been well-established in the state since 2009.  

The governor today commented on the fact that county officials in other states may try to deny licenses to same-sex couples in protest.   

Branstad says he’s not aware of any way that could happen here.

John Pemble/IPR

The Iowa Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged Governor Branstad’s decision to close the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo last year.  

Democratic lawmakers and a public employee union leader sued, claiming the governor exceeded his authority by closing the home after the legislature appropriated money to run it.    

The court ruled the case is moot since no money was appropriated to reopen the home.  

Photo by John Pemble

The president of China, a longtime associate of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, will be returning to the United States later this year.  

Governor Branstad has invited the Chinese leader to visit to Iowa again during the trip. Xi Jinping first came to the state in 1985 and returned in 2012 to sign a multi-billion dollar soybean export deal.  

“We have already sent a letter saying we would love to host him in Iowa again,” Branstad says.

Governor Branstad Taken to Hospital by Ambulance

Jan 26, 2015
Photo by John Pemble

Governor Terry Branstad has been taken to a Des Moines hospital by ambulance.  Branstad's spokesman says he "fell ill" at an event this morning due to a "seasonal illness." The Governor was speaking at Du Pont Pioneer in Johnston at the time. Branstad, who is 68 years old, held his weekly news conference this morning at the statehouse. He was coughing and was quizzed by a reporter about his health.

"I've got a bad cold, and so does the Lieutenant Governor. We've had it off and on for some time... couple weeks or more."

John Pemble / IPR

Des Moines Register political columnist, Kathie Obradovich, joins River to River to discuss the ongoing investigation into settlement agreements given to former state employees for their silence upon termination.

Wyoming_Jackrabbit / flickr

State money is helping to build a new Christian park in Sioux City. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, a Satanic statue will be erected outside a courthouse, next to the Ten Commandments.

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa Legislature adjourned last week and even though it’s an election year, lawmakers managed to get a few big items accomplished, including a $7-billion budget and a bill that decriminalizes some forms of medical marijuana in the state. At the same time, priority bills from the governor to crack down on schoolyard bullying and expand broadband to rural parts of the state failed.

USA.gov

Iowa's June primary election is heating up.  Republican senatorial candidates have been debating, buying ads, and collecting big name endorsements.  But, only one will be campaigning to take incumbent Democrat Tom Harkin's seat.  Host Dean Borg talks with Kathie Obradovich, Political Columnist for the Des Moines Register and Tim Hagle, Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Iowa about Iowa's primary races for Congress and U.S.

Photo by John Pemble

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad would support a bill with limited medical uses for cannabis if it looks similar to legislation passed in Utah.  Host Clay Masters talks with Branstad about medical marijuana, the juvenile home, secret settlements, and more on this Legislative Day edition of River to River from the Law Library at the Iowa state capitol building.

John Pemble / IPR

A recent investigative report by the Des Moines Register uncovered secret settlements made by the state to fired state workers. Those ex-staffers say they were let go because of their ties to Democrats. 

Emily Woodbury

A bill backed by Democrats in the Iowa Senate will make it easier for felons who have completed their sentences to have their voting rights restored. The bill passed a divided Senate subcommittee last week.

As the law stands, people who commit felonies must serve their sentences and pay all court-ordered compensation to victims before they can apply to the governor to restore their voting rights. The policy comes from an executive order signed by Governor Branstad in 2011.

John Pemble / IPR

The first of the 2014 legislative session comes to a close today, perhaps overshadowed by Governor Terry Branstad announcing he’s running for reelection. Many state lawmakers have their eye on looming national and state elections. Associated Press Statehouse and Political Reporter Catherine Lucey talks with IPR’s Clay Masters about how Iowa politics are shaping up at outset of 2014.  

John Pemble / IPR

Governor Terry Branstad outlined legislative and spending priorities in his annual Condition of the State address in the House chamber at the Iowa State Capitol.  He is proposing measures to attract veterans, prevent bullying and expand broadband access in the state.  Host Charity Nebbe talked with Chris Larimer, Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Northern Iowa, IPR's Clay Masters and listeners about what was and was not included in the speech.

John Pemble / IPR

More than twenty states have refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, leaving many Americans below the poverty line with few health insurance options. Some states are coming up with their own low-income health plans which would give them some of the federal money set aside for Medicaid expansions while writing their own rules. Federal authorities approved Iowa’s alternative proposal. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports… the rest of the country is taking note. 

John Pemble

  

Governor Branstad highlighted tax cuts, education, and health care in his condition of the state speech.    Earlier he  unveiled the outlines of a six point five  billion dollar budget for next year.  Now begins the hard work of getting his agenda through the divided legislature.