Terry Branstad

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

An Iowa author’s book about Governor Branstad’s long tenure in office is being translated into Chinese by a Beijing publisher.  

Newton author and former newspaperman Mike Chapman wrote Iowa’s Record Setting Governor: The Terry Branstad Story in 2015.  

Two Chinese publishers expressed an interest in translating the book.

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

Screenshot from CPSAN

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has been confirmed as the next U-S ambassador to China.  The U-S Senate voted 82-13 Monday to make his appointment official.  Before the vote, Senator Chuck Grassley said Branstad has already been an ambassador his whole career.

“As governor, he’s been vigorous in promoting our state’s economy and opening markets for our farm commodities, financial service and our manufacturing to the world marketplace,” Grassley said.

AgriLife Today

Iowa beef products could be reaching Chinese consumers by mid-July under a U.S.-Chinese trade agreement announced last week.

China imposed an embargo on U.S. beef after a case of Mad Cow disease in 2003.  

At his weekly news conference, Branstad called lifting the embargo a “really big deal.”

“This is something we wanted for years and years,” Branstad said.   “So I intend to bring Iowa premium beef to China and I intend to serve it in the ambassador’s residence and in the embassy.”      

John Pemble / IPR

Governor Branstad is about to complete his tenure as Iowa’s and the nation’s longest serving governor with his likely confirmation soon as U.S. Ambassador to China.    As Iowans weigh in on the Branstad legacy, views differ depending on whether you’re looking at Branstad’s earlier terms, or those he’s just completing.    

For Des Moines attorney Doug Gross, Gov. Branstad’s chief of staff in  his early years in office, it's not difficult to name Branstad's biggest achievement from that time up to now.

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.

Kelli Andresen / UIPPC

In this special edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer co-moderates a discussion with Lynn Hicks of the Des Moines Register. The conversation features a panel of guests with expertise in U.S. China relations. The event, "China, Iowa and Diplomacy in the Trump Administration," was sponsored by the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, IPR and the Des Moines Register, and came just a day after Governor Terry Branstad faced the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as the nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to China.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

If Governor Terry Branstad is confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to China, that will make Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds the next governor. Attorney General Tom Miller issued an opinion this week concluding Reynolds should not appoint a new lieutenant governor when she assumes the state’s highest job. Reynolds is disappointed with the attorney general contradicting his informal opinion he made last year. Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters sat down with Lt.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Governor Terry Branstad will go before a Senate Foreign Relations confirmation hearing this morning to become the next U.S. Ambassador to China. Back in 2010, he campaigned for the governorship again on a promise to add 200,000 jobs in Iowa.  We wanted to follow up on that campaign goal with Iowa State University Economist Dave Swenson, who says a governor really doesn’t have much control over gross job gains. 

John Pemble/IPR file photo

In a surprise formal opinion issued today, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller concluded that Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds should not appoint a new lieutenant governor when she assumes the state’s highest office.   

The opinion contradicts an informal opinion from Miller last year.   

Republicans are sharply critical of the new advice.

In December, Miller’s office said it had researched Iowa law and consulted with the governor’s office.

Joyce Russell/IPR

In a heated exchange with reporters, Governor Branstad today defended GOP lawmakers for approving $150,000 in transition expenses for Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds as she assumes the governorship.      

Democrats called the appropriation extravagant in a year when budgets are being cut across state government.    

But Branstad compared the fund to past transition appropriations.

“The same Democrats when they controlled everything, gave $170,000 for [Gov. Chet] Culver's transition,” Branstad said.

His voice rising higher, Branstad implied that sexism was involved.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A last minute Republican-sponsored budget bill introduced this week at the statehouse should ensure that Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds has the resources she needs to take over as governor.  

Reynolds will assume the office when Governor  Branstad leaves to become U.S. Ambassador to China.    

At the request of the Branstad/Reynolds administration, the bill appropriates $150,000 for transition expenses.    

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Charles Schneider (R-West Des Moines) says with so many budgets getting cut this year, the request was carefully considered:

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad will be undergoing interviews in Washington this week in preparation for his confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.   

The committee will rule on his nomination to be U.S. Ambassador to China at an unspecified time in the future. 

In the meantime staff in D.C. have put together an ambitious schedule of talks.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad and First Lady Chris Branstad will not be leaving their entire family behind when they move to Beijing for Branstad to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China.    

Speaking in Des Moines Tuesday,  Branstad said his daughter Allison and her family will also be moving to Beijing.  

“My daughter has interviewed for a teaching job in China via Skype,” Branstad said.    “She got an offer from the Beijing International School.”

Costa accepted the offer to teach 3rd grade.

Governor Branstad Tuesday reminisced about the history of home-schooling in Iowa, in an address to homeschool families in town for their annual Day at the Capitol.  

Branstad told a crowd of about 300 parents and children that Iowa is known for its supportive environment for home schools.   

He recalls the 1991 legislation to legalize homeschooling in Iowa:

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad today condemned anti-immigrant comments that appeared in a weekend tweet from Republican 4th District Representative Steve King.   

King wrote in support of anti-immigration Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders who wants to ban the Quran in the Netherlands and shut down mosques.   

“Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny,” King tweeted.   “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.”

Joyce Russell/IPR

The state of Iowa will receive a multi-million dollar windfall as part of a $15 billion  settlement with German carmaker Volkswagen over its emissions cheating scandal.   

Iowa’s $21 million share must be spent on projects to reduce toxic emissions into the Iowa environment.  

A federal judge approved the settlement between Volkswagen and state and federal governments last year.  

The carmaker sold nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles with model years 2009 to 2016 equipped with so-called defeat devices to get around emissions standards.  

Branstad Supports Trump Travel Ban

Jan 30, 2017
tani.P/flickr

Iowa's top elected officials are reacting to President Trump's executive order that restricts travel into the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries and puts refugee programs on hold.

Governor Terry Branstad supports the ban.   

At his weekly news conference, he said he is not going to second guess how the policy is being implemented.

Radio Iowa

Statehouse Republicans have tentatively agreed to scale back some of Governor Branstad’s biggest proposed budget cuts for the fiscal year that ends in June. 

But numerous agencies will still have to give up millions of dollars they expected to be able to spend.     

The GOP is struggling to cut more than $100 million from this year’s budget  because tax receipts have not met expectations.    

Senator Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) said for example the governor’s request to cut $25 million from the Regents schools gave legislators heartburn.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad says the investigation continues into the abuse of patients at the state-run Glenwood Resource Center in western Iowa. 

But he says he will not second-guess the Department of Human Services for not reprimanding supervisors at the facility which cares for patients with profound mental disabilities.

Six employees were fired and others were disciplined for physically and verbally abusing patients, but that did not include managers.