Kim Reynolds

Joyce Russell/IPR

Majority Republicans in the Iowa Senate have altered their plans for addressing sexual harassment after internal dissent about how to proceed.  

They’ve scuttled a plan to hire a human resources director to hear sexual harassment complaints in the future, but House Republicans disagree. 

Senate Republicans are addressing the issue after former senate staffer Kirsten Anderson won a $1.75 million sexual harassment settlement.  

Last week leaders announced they would hire a human resources manager.    

Joyce Russell/IPR

A prominent Iowa Republican couple has been let go from the Kim Reynolds re-election campaign while a state ethics board looks into their work as foreign agents for Saudi Arabia.      

Executive branch officials Kim and Connie Schmett earned more than $100,000 from the Saudis for helping fight legislation in Congress to allow victims of the September 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.    

The Reynolds campaign announced the Schmetts will no longer co-chair Reynolds’s Polk County committee.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Kim and Connie Schmett will retain their positions in the Reynolds administration for now, while a state ethics board looks into their work as foreign agents for Saudi Arabia.  

But Gov. Kim Reynolds says the legislature should act to ensure that state officials don’t work as foreign agents in the future.  

The Schmetts, who are long-time GOP activists from Clive, own a consulting firm called Schmett & Associates. The Saudis paid the couple over $100,000 for their work on legislation to allow lawsuits against Saudi Arabia after the 9/11 attacks.   

John Pemble/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds has been in office for five months.  In the first half of this River to River program, host Ben Kieffer asks Reynolds about health care, opioid abuse, partisan politics, and the upcoming legislative session.

To start, Reynolds says she had a number of topics to offer Iowa's congressional delegation. 

She says that she thanked them for support of the Renewable Fuel Standard, and work on healthcare.  Her priorities for next legislative session are getting a water quality bill and having a competitive bushiness environment.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds had phone conversations today with both President Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt about a controversial proposal to scale back the Renewable Fuel Standard, reducing the mandate for Iowa-grown biofuels.    

Iowa politicians are putting a full-court press on the Trump administration, after the EPA proposed  reducing the volume of biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol blended into gasoline.   

Reynolds called her conversation with the president “constructive and productive.”  

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds today lamented the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history that occurred in Las Vegas on Sunday, leaving at least 59 people dead and more than 500 injured.   

“Nobody wants to wake up at five in the morning and read the news we all got up to this morning,”  Reynolds said, beginning her weekly news conference.  “I was sickened by the horrific act.”

Reynolds was asked if she would be proposing new gun control initiatives in light of the shooting.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A controversial settlement in a sexual harassment complaint against Republicans in the Iowa Senate was officially approved today, putting an end to a lawsuit alleging a sexually-charged atmosphere in the GOP caucus.   

The State Appeals Board agreed that Iowa taxpayers will cover the $1.75 million settlement, with the money going to former GOP staffer Kirsten Anderson and her attorneys. 

A district court had awarded Anderson $2.2 million.   

Solicitor General Jeff Thompson said continuing to fight that verdict could be costly.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds today reacted with emotion to the ongoing controversy involving NFL players kneeling rather than standing during the playing of the national anthem.  

The protest has grown as more players express opposition to racial injustice and police brutality across the country. 

The Associated Press reported that on Sunday, over 200 athletes declined to stand, while others locked arms with them in solidarity.  Others declined to come out on the field for pre-game ceremonies.

Joyce Russell/IPR

The Kim Reynolds administration is closing the books on the fiscal year that ended in June, and, as predicted, revenues fell short of what was needed to cover all the spending the legislature approved.  

But the shortfall wasn’t as bad as feared, and the governor won’t be calling lawmakers back into special session.  

At the end of June, the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency estimated that tax receipts had fallen more than $100 million short, far more than the governor could cover with emergency funds.  

In this edition of "Pints and Politics" on River to River host Ben Kieffer, and co-host Erin Jordan gather the thoughts and opinions of reporter James Lynch and columnists Todd Dorman and Lynda Waddington from the Cedar Rapids Gazette, while hoisting a pint or two with a live audience. Topics include the Trump administration's response to Hurricane Harvey and violence in Charlottesville as well as Governor Kim Reynolds' deal with Apple and the state of the Iowa gubernatorial race. The conversation takes place at the Cedar Ridge winery and distillery in Swisher.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds today defended the executive branch agency that’s charged with overseeing compliance with Iowa’s open meetings and public records laws.  

The Iowa Public Information Board is itself the subject of a complaint alleging a violation of the law.    

IPIB is in a legal struggle to force the Burlington Police Department and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to release video from a fatal 2015 police shooting.   

As allowed by law, the board met in closed session last week to discuss the case.

Joyce Russell/IPR File

Gov. Kim Reynolds is declining to say whether she’s fully behind President Trump, when she was questioned during her weekly press conference if the president still has her “full-fledged” support. The governor says Iowa is her first priority.  Reynolds backed the Republican nominee Trump during the presidential election. 

Last week Trump seemed to equate neo-Nazis and skinheads with protesters opposing white supremacy after a protest in Virginia turned violent.

Reynolds said racist bigotry and hate is unacceptable, and emphasized her focus is on Iowa.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds threw her support behind her appointee to head the Iowa Department of Human Services following complaints about the State Training School for Boys at Eldora.   

An organization known as Disability Rights Iowa released a report criticizing the use of seclusion rooms and restraints on boys referred to the facility by juvenile courts, sometimes for serious crimes.   

Reynolds says DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven is the right person to review the complaint.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds expressed confidence Wednesday that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in the Iowa Senate, where Republicans face a multimillion-dollar court judgment in a sexual harassment lawsuit.     

A district court awarded former Republican Senate staffer Kirsten Anderson $2.2 million after a trial featuring testimony describing a sexually toxic workplace. 

Senate Republicans have retained all leaders and staff while they conduct their own investigation of the court testimony.

Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

Members of the All-Iowa Ag Trade Mission to China report getting a good reception from Chinese officials, and they say Gov. Branstad’s appointment as U.S. Ambassador to China has raised Iowa’s profile with Chinese leaders.   

Gov. Kim Reynolds is leading the 35-member delegation representing all major Iowa commodity groups. 

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said the Branstad appointment has raised the profile of Iowa in China when compared to previous trade missions.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds said Tuesday she was not aware of instances of sexual harassment in the Iowa Senate during the years she served as a Republican state senator.       

A Polk County jury Tuesday awarded former Republican staffer Kirsten Anderson a more than $2 million judgment in her sexual harassment case describing vulgar, sexist language by male aides and lawmakers.

Anderson's testimony covered the years 2009 and 2010 when Reynolds represented Senate District 48.     

Russell/IPR

Governor Reynolds’s challenger for the Republican nomination for governor has harsh words for how statehouse Republicans are managing shortfalls in the state budget.  

After tax receipts fell short of projections, Republican lawmakers dipped into cash reserves to balance the budget this year.

Gov. Reynolds is expected to spend even more emergency funds to cover the shortfall, and may have to call lawmakers back into special session.

GOP gubernatorial candidate, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, says the shortfall was predictable and preventable.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Cedar Rapids Mayor and GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron Corbett reports a successful initial fundraising effort since announcing his candidacy three weeks ago.  

At a Des Moines news conference, Corbett said he has raised more than $1 million, including $800,000 in cash and additional thousands in commitments, without taking money from political action committees.

Governor Reynolds has reported having $1 million in her campaign war chest.  

Corbett said that was raised over the course of a year with Gov. Branstad’s help.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds says she is not concerned about support for wind energy from the new Trump administration,  in spite of the president’s remarks in Cedar Rapids last week.  

In comments at the U.S. Cellular Center, Trump implied that wind energy is not reliable and endangers wildlife, sparking concern from industry backers.

But Reynolds said she’s not worried that the Trump administration will pull back on federal support

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says she plans to run for a full term in 2018.  Reynolds became governor when Terry Branstad resigned last month to become the U-S ambassador to China.  Branstad’s term runs through January, 2019.  Reynolds says current acting Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg will be her running mate.  They’ve established a new campaign committee and plan to make a final decision and a formal announcement within the next few months.

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

In the basement of the State Historical Museum of Iowa there’s a box of hairless, 18-inch porcelain dolls. They each bear a passing likeness to Mrs. Billie Ray, the wife of Robert Ray, Iowa’s 38th governor.

“It looks like we have Billie Rays at least to last for another, just counting, so we got six, seven Billie Ray figures still that can be dressed as first ladies,” explains Leo Landis, Iowa’s state historian. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

The first ever all-Iowa agriculture trade mission to China will take place this summer, with Governor Kim Reynolds leading representatives from all of Iowa’s main agriculture commodity groups.   

Pork, beef, turkey, corn, soybean, egg and dairy producers will visit with government officials in Beijing, Shanghai and Xian to encourage more purchase of Iowa commodities. 

reynolds and gregg
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds and acting Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg traveled across Iowa Friday on their "Building a Better Iowa" tour. Reynolds became the state’s first female governor on Wednesday. 

At a stop in Cedar Rapids, Reynolds emphasized four priorities: tax reform to encourage business growth, energy policy innovation, STEM education and workforce training.

"I want you to know that while we're proud of what we've been able to do over the last six years, we know that our job is far from done," Reynolds says. "We have a lot of work left to do."

Joyce Russell/IPR

One difference is emerging in the workday customs of new Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and her predecessor Terry Branstad.  

Instead of working in a private office on the ground floor of the capitol, Reynolds will conduct daily business in the governor’s more public and expansive formal office upstairs.  

In recent administrations the formal office has been the setting for receptions and bill-signings, but Reynolds plans to work there every day.

Joyce Russell/IPR

On her first full day in office, Gov. Kim Reynolds today named an acting lieutenant governor to serve with her as she completes the last 20 months of Gov. Terry Branstad’s term.  

But to comply with an attorney general’s ruling, the new appointee will not officially hold the office and will not become governor if Reynolds should be unable to serve.   

John Pemble/IPR

Kimberly Kay Reynolds officially became Iowa’s 43rd governor and the state’s first female chief executive in formal ceremonies at the statehouse Wednesday. 

First, Governor Branstad had to formally resign.

“I’m pleased to present my letter of resignation as I prepare for this exciting new adventure as Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China,” Branstad said in a ceremony in his formal office.      

Then the attention shifted to the statehouse rotunda where Chief Justice Mark Cady delivered the oath of office to Reynolds before invited guests and friends.    

John Pemble/IPR

Kim Reynolds was sworn in this morning as Iowa’s 43rd governor, shortly after the resignation of Terry Branstad, the state’s – and the country’s – longest-serving governor.  Branstad this morning was sworn in as the new U.S. Ambassador to China. 

Reynolds is the first woman to hold the office of Iowa governor, but in a speech following her swearing-in at the Capitol, she said she wants to accomplish more than that while in office.  Reynolds outlined four priorities for her administration, all aimed at improving Iowa’s economy and job growth. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov.Terry  Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds Tuesday held the final statehouse news conference of Branstad’s long career,  outlining plans for official swearing-in ceremonies on Wednesday.

Branstad will resign from office and be sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to China.   Then Reynolds will be sworn in as the 43rd governor of Iowa.    

At the news conference, Reynolds thanked the governor for their years of service together

Joyce Russell/IPR

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds says it’s too early to recommend any change in state policy, after last week’s fatal shooting of Pottawattamie County deputy Mark Burbridge, whose funeral was held in Council Bluffs today.

Deputy Burbridge was killed in the line of duty when an inmate he was escorting back to jail with another deputy took one their firearms and shot them both.    

Reynolds says the Branstad administration will stay in touch with the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Department officials as they review the incident.

Photo by Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad answered questions posed by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week, moving one step closer to his confirmation as the next U.S. Ambassador to China. Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds also inched closer to becoming Iowa's first female governor as Branstad's successor.

In this edition of politics day on River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dennis Goldford of Drake University and Chris Larimer of the University of Northern Iowa about the challenges facing Branstad and Reynolds as they make these transitions.

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