Statehouse

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

While all eyes are on a recently tight presidential race, politicos in Iowa are considering another razor thin margin: that of the Iowa Senate. With a Republican governor and the GOP holding 57 of the 100 seats in the House of Representatives, the outcome of one or two state senate races could determine whether the Republicans get a Statehouse trifecta. Adding to the complication? Earlier this summer, State Senator Dave Johnson changed his registration from Republican to Independent following...

John Pemble / IPR

As Iowa lawmakers dash to get bills out of committee in either the House or Senate, IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell has her eye on a few big questions this week: 1. Can medical marijuana backers get a bill out of committee? A bill to legalize production and distribution of marijuana for limited medical purposes would need to pass out of committee this week. The bill has Republican support and goes much further than the 2014 bill that made cannabis oil legal for parents to treat...

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa legislature is back in session today. Leaders are in sharp division over the state budget, and questions about education funding are fueling disagreements. The Senate wants a four percent increase, and the House wants a two percent increase. During this hour of River to River , host Ben Kieffer talks with Senate President Pam Jocum (D) from Dubuque and Speaker Pro Tem Matt Windschitl (R) from Missouri Valley about lawmakers' priorities for the 2016 session. Kieffer talks with Jocum...

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

Iowa Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen says will step down from his leadership position in January, and serve his last year in the state assembly as a rank-and-file member. The Hiawatha Republican says he will not seek a seventh term . Paulsen says he believes it’s "just the right time" for him personally to resign from the speakership. And also he says it’s important to set up the next speaker for success. "I think part of that is making sure whoever my is my successor, has ti me to put...

John Pemble

What do honey bees, baseball fields and coin-operated laundries have in common? This year, their owners are being considered as possible recipients of new state tax breaks. On this legislative day edition of River to River , Ben Kieffer is joined by lawmakers and IPR correspondent Joyce Russell to discuss various tax bills being debated at the capitol. Senator Joe Bolkom, a Democrat from Iowa City and Representative Tom Sands, a Republican from Wapello, also talk about what could be done with...

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The deadline for individual school districts to publish their budgets is April 5th, but in light of indecision at the statehouse, that's proving difficult. That’s pushed one superintendent, Art Tate of Davenport Community Schools, to drastic measures: openly defying state law. "I'm trying to improve the graduation rate and reduce the suspension rate and pull the achievement gap together, and I'm having to, every year, reduce. I just came to the point I said, 'I can't do that anymore. I won't...

Katherine Perkins / Iowa Public Radio

Summer Program Director at the Des Moines YMCA Camp Alex Kretzinger says its difficult to develop schedules for summer camp not knowing when school will start next fall.

John Pemble

So-called conversion therapy seeks to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian youth.

John Pemble / IPR

Talks about an increase of ten cents a gallon to the state’s gas tax have really been the dominant topic to come out the statehouse this session. IPR's Clay Masters speaks with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the gas tax and other issues being discussed at the statehouse.

Tomas de Aquino/flickr

A bipartisan senate committee voted overwhelmingly to ease the penalties for some cases of first-time marijuana possession.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Academic counselors from the University of Iowa will be on the campus of the American Institute of Business in Des Moines this week.

Heath Harris/flickr

There’s a new coalition at the statehouse of African-American Democrats and free enterprise Republicans.

John Pemble/IPR

A bill to allow Iowa’s two fully online schools to continue operation cleared a hurdle in the House yesterday.

John Pemble / IPR

Debates over how much of a raise to give to the state's schools usually dominates early discussions at the capitol. Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell tells IPR's Clay Masters this year the debate is on time. The two discuss other education topics and what's ahead this week.

Photo by John Pemble / IPR

Governor Branstad outlined his priorities for this year’s legislative session in a thirty minute Condition of the State speech Tuesday.

John Pemble / IPR

Legislative leaders agree a tight budget will sharpen the focus on priorities this session. Identifying those priorities may be the sticking point.

401kcalculator.org/flickr

A Republican-sponsored tax credit will be so small this year that many taxpayers may not even notice it.

Clay Masters / IPR

Candidates for the Iowa House and Senate have filed their final campaign finance reports before tomorrow’s election.

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. Now, many lawmakers will run for re-election and a handful are vying for higher office. Host Clay Masters has...

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa Legislature adjourned last week. Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to discuss what got done this legislative year.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

While there are many differences between Iowa and our neighboring states, there are also many similarities. For example, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently signed a bill to allow the use of a cannabis extract for the treatment of seizures, while Minnesota's state legislature is still working on a similar proposal. In recent weeks, an effort to decriminalize the possession of cannabis oil has gained ground in the Iowa statehouse. In this week's legislative show, Host Clay Masters talks...

John Pemble / IPR

The predictions are out there that Iowa's legislative session will wrap up early this week. On Mondays we check in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to make sense of everything going on up at the capitol.

Democrats in the Iowa Senate got the ball rolling on a bill that’s a dream come true for environmentalists and natural resource advocates. The bill raises the state sales tax for a natural resources trust fund that voters approved by constitutional amendment two years ago. Backers added a tax cut ​ to the bill to soften the blow.

Angela Radulescu / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/legalcode

Women currently make up 18.5 percent of the U.S. Congress. Yet Iowa is one of only two states that has never elected a woman to Congress nor had a female governor. This hour, a look at the gender gap in politics – Why do women run for office less than their male counterparts? When they are in office, how do they govern? Some highlights from today's guests: Three reasons for the gender gap in political ambition: from Jennifer Lawless, Director of the Women & Politics Institute and...

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Host Ben Kieffer sits down with Iowa Public Radio statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell about developments surrounding the confidential settlements within Governor Branstad's administration and the end of the legislative session. Also, planting season is right around the corner. Iowa State University agronomist and ISU Extension climatologist Elwynn Taylor discusses soil conditions throughout Iowa.

Photo by John Pemble

Almost every day last week we were getting updates on these so-called confidential settlements made by the Branstad administration. More than 400,000 dollars has been paid out to laid off staffers. IPR's Clay Masters gets the latest on it and other ongoing legislative issues from statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell.

John Pemble / IPR

The issue of the Branstad administration's confidential settlements with laid-off state workers still seems to be front and center at the capitol. As much as $400,000 was given out to fired workers. That doesn't show up on any budgets or balance sheets. The governor for his part has outlawed such settlements. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to discuss where things stand with the settlements and other issues up for discussion in the legislature this week.

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.

Statehouse Democrats say the legislature's oversight committee will be very busy in the coming weeks, as they look into recent allegations against the Terry Branstad administration. They say the panel will first look into reports of secret settlements to fired state workers.

John Pemble / IPR

Last week was another deadline at the Iowa statehouse for lawmakers to get more laws through committee so they can be debated on the floor.

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