Statehouse and Politics

The head of the Iowa Board of Regents says  he will insist on a 4% hike in state funding, if Iowans want the board to freeze tuition next year.      President Bruce Rastetter was the featured speaker at the Des Moines Conservative Breakfast Club. 

Students, teachers, and other school personnel turned out in Des Moines Monday for Governor Branstad’s second Bullying Prevention Summit.    The  governor  vowed to strengthen state law to combat  bullying online.    But  not everyone  agrees.   



An interim committee at the statehouse today heard from safety experts and off-road vehicle manufacturers as they consider whether to allow all-terrain vehicles to operate on public roadways.   A bill passed the House to open up county roads and highways  to ATV's  travelling as fast as 45 miles an hour.  But  it died in the Senate, and promoters say they’ll try again next year.   

Iowa GOP Facebook

The half dozen Republican candidates in the 2014 primary race for U.S. Senate met Wednesday night in Des Moines for a debate. But as Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports it wasn’t much of a debate… more of a chance for voters to figure out who’s running.

A former Democratic Iowa Congressman has donated his papers to Iowa State University.   Ed Mezvinsky  was  on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate scandal.     

John Pemble / IPR

Statehouse analysts are giving a cautiously optimistic forecast for modest  growth in the Iowa economy.    But they say that could change if Congress doesn’t act soon to end the federal government shutdown.    

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation has granted immunity to a person of interest in Canada, as they continue to probe a questionable claim for a more than 14 million dollar Iowa Lottery jackpot from nearly three years ago.    

An embattled state senator facing ethics complaints has resigned at the request of the minority leader in the Iowa Senate.   An independent counsel concluded Senator Kent Sorenson may have been guilty of criminal misconduct in office.   

A task force appointed by the governor will soon be recommending major changes at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo.   An inspection last year revealed that teen-aged girls were being held in isolation for months at a time.  An  interim administrator told the task force about improvements at the home.     But the  advocacy group which unveiled the abuse still has concerns about restraining young girls.  

State lawmakers grilled administrators about illegal practices at the Iowa Juvenile  Home in Toledo.    Officials say they have turned things around  since investigators last year found girls confined to isolation cells for months at a time.  But the advocacy group which unveiled the abuse says there’s more work to be done.   



Vice-president Joe Biden and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro were the featured speakers in Indianola for Democratic U.S. Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry.    

Sioux City conservative talk show host  and Morningside College professor Sam Clovis  was the featured speaker  at the  Des Moines Conservative Breakfast Club.    One by one the club is hearing from each of the  candidates in the crowded  race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to replace retiring Democrat Tom Harkin.    Clovis predicts the candidates are going to sound a lot like each other, and one long-time Republican activist agrees.   

  Republican candidate for U.S. Senate David Young introduced himself to Polk County Republicans at a breakfast in Des Moines.   Young is  the former chief of staff for Senator Chuck Grassley.    Political observers say that alone won’t catapult  him to victory in the Republican primary.    

Photo by John Pemble

IPR's Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell joins Sarah McCammon to wrap up the 2013 session. Lawmakers adjourned in their third week of overtime on Thursday, May 23.

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 Iowa’s 2013 legislative session ended Thursday morning. Democratic and Republican leaders called the session historic as bipartisan compromises on insuring low-income Iowans, reforming the state’s education system and property taxes were passed. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports. 

Photo by John Pemble

Iowa lawmakers are returning to Des Moines for a third week of overtime. The session was scheduled to wrap up May 3, but legislators continue to negotiate education reform, property taxes, Medicaid expansion, and other key issues.

Photo by John Pemble
Photo by John Pemble

Republicans in the Iowa House say they hope to  offer an alternative to Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s plan  for insuring  thousands of low-income Iowans.    It’s part of the negotiating  on health care, which is  delaying adjournment of this year’s legislative session.

A fight is underway at the statehouse between petroleum marketers and petroleum refiners, and ethanol is in the middle of it.   An upcoming change  will result in a lot more blending  of biofuels for sale at the pump.      The fight is over who gets to do the blending, and there’s money at stake.   

Photo by John Pemble

As Iowa lawmakers go into overtime, IPR's Sarah McCammon and Joyce Russell discuss what's left to hash out at the statehouse.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell joins Sarah McCammon for an update on legislative news.

Legislative Preview: 04/22/13

Apr 22, 2013
John Pemble

IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell joins 'Morning Edition' Host Sarah McCammon for a weekly conversation about legislative news.

John Pemble / IPR

The Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate wants to expand Medicaid in the state. Republican Governor Terry Branstad does NOT and has introduced his own plan. Medicaid is the joint federal-state healthcare program for low-income people. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports the Republican-controlled House held a public hearing on the Senate’s expansion bill Tuesday night.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

IPR "Morning Edition" Host Sarah McCammon and Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell look ahead to the upcoming week in the Iowa Capitol.

Courtesy Barrett & MacKay Photography Inc.

Kevin Wells has been genetically engineering animals for 24 years.

“It’s sort of like a jigsaw puzzle,” said Wells recently as he walked through his lab at the University of Missouri - Columbia. “You take DNA apart and put it back together in different orders, different orientations.”

Photo by John Pemble

IPR's Joyce Russell joins Sarah McCammon for an update on news from the Iowa General Assembly. 

John Pemble / IPR

It looks like smooth sailing for a bill at the statehouse to let Iowa’s  job creation experts hand out more tax credits to potential employers.    Officials say the current cap on credits isn’t enough to meet the demand, as more companies are looking to expand.    But not everyone agrees with  a plan to make sure the employers  come through with the jobs they promise.  

Clay Masters / IPR

Republican and Democratic Senators clashed over a bill that would expand Medicaid in the Iowa. That’s the joint federal-state program that provides healthcare for low-income people. Last year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that under the Affordable Care Act… sometimes called Obamacare... it’s optional for states to expand Medicaid. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, the senate passed the bill along party lines.

John Pemble / IPR

IPR Morning Edition Host Sarah McCammon checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell on legislative news.

New Board of Regents Appointee Draws Controversy

Mar 20, 2013


Two new candidates went to the Capitol for job interviews yesterday--  as new appointees to the Board of Regents, which governs Iowa's public Universities. Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports one of those candidates—Robert Cramer—provoked a lot of controversy for his conservative views.