Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a statehouse and political correspondent in 2012 and started hosting IPR’s Morning Edition in 2014. Clay is an award-winning multi-media journalist whose radio stories have been heard on various NPR and American Public Media programs.

He was one of the founding reporters of Harvest Public Media, the regional journalism consortium covering agriculture and food production in the Midwest. He was based in Nebraska where he worked for Nebraska’s statewide public radio and television network. 

Clay continues to report on a wide variety of topics including politics, health and the environment. He’s also a regular music contributor to NPR’s arts desk.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

Ways to Connect

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Iowa’s largest public school district is testing its water for lead contamination. There are no state requirements for schools to routinely test their water supplies, but following reports of high levels of lead in school drinking water supplies around the country, Des Moines Public Schools decided they’d test all of their school buildings. Phil Roeder with the district says the average age of its schools is 65 years. He says all of the buildings have been renovated at some point. “It wouldn...

Photo by John Pemble

The split Iowa Legislature has taken another step toward adjournment by agreeing to state budget targets. Details for the budget of about $7.3 billion remain pretty vague at this point. Here’s what IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell says are the important details to watch this week: 1) State layoffs are possible. Senator Bob Divorsky , the Democratic head of the Senate Appropriations Committee, says next year’s budget will be difficult and calls it an ugly budget. “There will be no...

John Pemble

Here’s what to know going into the week at the Iowa legislature. 1. Iowa’s Medicaid is now managed by private companies. Patients have begun navigating the new system as of Friday. The governor claims it will contain costs, but critics says it leaves many patients without services, as IPR’s Sarah Boden reported last week . “ Democrats say they will continue to grill Medicaid officials,” says IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell. Program managers are working with the Iowa Attorney...

John Pemble / IPR

There are more deadlines this week that will force bills forward or fall flat. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talked with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell and has these takeaways. 1. Leaders in the Iowa legislature have new state revenue projections that will impact the budget. “It’s a little bit inside baseball,” says IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell. Both the Governor and Democratic Senate will have to scale back their budgets based on the new numbers. Iowa Department...

John Pemble / IPR

If Republicans don't hold hearings on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Democrats believe the issue could help them win the Senate this November. One test case for this proposition is Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees Supreme Court nominations. At 82 years old, Grassley has coasted safely to re-election for decades and is seeking his seventh Senate term this fall. So far, Grassley has resisted calls to hold nomination...

Flickr / Steven Brewer

The Iowa Supreme Court is expected this morning to release a decision that could severely weaken Iowa’s open meetings law. The justices must decide if sending messages through an employee, the Warren County Board of Supervisors were still holding a "meeting," as defined under Iowa code. What happened? In March 2014, the Warren County Board of Supervisors laid off 12 county employees. The three-member board did not come to this decision in person or through email. Rather, they reached a...

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, is still saying he will not hold confirmation hearings, now that President Obama has selected a Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. President Obama nominated D.C. Federal Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court this morning. Senator Grassley wants to hold off on hearings until after the presidential election. When asked in a conference call with reporters today...

Michael Leland / IPR

More bills have reached deadlines for continuing in the Iowa legislature. IPR’s Morning Edition Host Clay Masters got the latest from Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell on what to expect going into the week of March 14 at the statehouse. 1. The House and Senate have agreed to adopt a tax break for one year. Last week the Republican House and Democratic Senate announced they’d reached agreements on tax coupling, that is the state/federal tax changes couple with federal tax. It’s a $100...

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters spoke with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell. Here’s what she told him: 1. Kids likely won’t be allowed to handle guns. Iowa got a lot of national attention for a bill in the Iowa House that would allow children, 14 and younger, to handle a gun under parental supervision. “I would say there’s virtually no way this would pass the senate,” IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell said. The gun bill that could pass both chambers is one to legalize gun...

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Former Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge is running for the U.S. Senate seat held since 1981 by Republican Chuck Grassley. She becomes the fourth Democrat to enter the race. Judge announced her candidacy with a news release this morning and a post on her Facebook page, calling herself, "the Judge Chuck Grassley can't ignore." Grassley heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has said it would not hold a hearing for anyone President Obama nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy. “Chuck’s been...

John Pemble / IPR

Lawmakers in the Iowa House and Senate have reached the first major deadline this legislative session. While many bills have fallen by the wayside, some major issues still loom. 1. State Lawmakers are STILL waiting for the feds to rule in on Medicaid. The Iowa Department of Human Services has no timetable but hopes to hear soon whether or not the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid approve Governor Terry Branstad’s plan to privatize management of the state’s Medicaid system. Democrats in the...

Jared Wong / Flickr

The organization AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, says 42 percent of Iowa’s private sector workers do not have an employer-sponsored retirement plan. State Senator Janet Petersen and Iowa’s State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald are working to change that. They’ve proposed a state-run plan for private employees, something more than 20 states are also considering. During this episode of River to River, host Clay Masters talks with Fitzgerald and Petersen. Both argue that...

U.S. Supreme Court

Senator Chuck Grassley says it’s "standard practice" to hold off nominating and confirming a U-S Supreme Court Justice during a presidential election year. The Iowa Republican’s comments come following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday. There have been several nominations and confirmations of justices during election years. Senator Grassley chairs the Judiciary committee which is responsible for approving Supreme Court nominees. Scott Peters – a political science professor at...

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 / IPR

With the Iowa caucuses over and the general election months away, political watchers in Iowa turn their gaze to the capitol. The legislature is taking on many of the same characteristics of previous sessions. IPR’s Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell laid out the following observations: 1. The Governor’s Agenda is modest and defining issues this session are hard to identify. “There won’t likely be anything too far-reaching in an election year,” Russell says. Joyce points out after the...

Amy Mayer / IPR

After Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s victory in the Iowa Caucuses many are questioning the political importance of ethanol, an industry that has long held sway in the political scene of Iowa and much of the Midwest. Iowa is the top-producer of ethanol, the corn-based fuel, in the country. With its status as the first state that gets a crack at the presidential contest, Iowa often brings renewable fuels into the political limelight . Support for government supports of the ethanol industry has been...

Clay Masters/IPR

With less than a week until the Iowa caucuses, presidential candidates are descending on Iowa. A trend has emerged among the Republican candidates. A volunteer for the Donald Trump campaign is walking along a line of rally attendees at the West Gym on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa earlier this month. HE’s trying to get people to sign up to vote. “Does anybody need to register or re-register to be a Republican?!” he asks. Trump has taken a different approach to Iowa caucus...

Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton continued to spar last night in Des Moines. With the Iowa caucuses less than three weeks away, Clinton has been attacking Sanders for votes he made that she says shield gun makers and sellers. At the Iowa Brown and Black Forum last night, moderator Jorge Ramos pressed Sanders about it. "Have you noticed maybe that she's been getting more aggressive with you?" Ramos asked. Sanders smiled and said, "Yes...I don't know. It...

Clay Masters / IPR

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is seeking the Republican presidential nomination. Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters caught up with him on the phone on January 8, 2016 while Rubio was campaigning in New Hampshire. CM: So, let’s start with the executive actions taken by President Obama at the start of the New Year regarding guns. You’ve said the executive order would not prevent the shootings that the President cited, that it impacts more law abiding citizens, and that criminals buy guns off the...

Clay Masters / IPR

Democratic presidential candidates are responding to President Obama’s op-ed in the New York Times. The president wrote he will not support any candidate – even in his own party – who does not support common-sense gun reform. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders says there’s “zero daylight” between him and the president on the issue of guns. In an interview with Iowa Public Radio, Hillary Clinton says Sanders voted for legislation to keep gun makers and dealers safe from liability lawsuits. “When...

It started out as a place where musicians could take a break from the tedium of the road to record a few songs and post them online for fans. Over the course of a decade, Daytrotter has become home to an archive of thousands of recordings from such big-name musicians as Tori Amos , Alabama Shakes and Charley Pride . Daytrotter turns 10 next month, and is celebrating with a music festival in Davenport, Iowa. On the surface, the old Daytrotter studio looks like a dump. It's a 1970s radio...

Clay Masters/IPR file photo

Des Moines residents can expect their water bills to go up 10 percent in April. It comes as the state’s largest water utility is in the middle of a lawsuit with three northern Iowa counties. Des Moines Water Works CEO Bill Stowe says the utility has removed more nitrates from the city’s water supply of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers in the last year than any other. The biggest cause comes from fertilizer used in large scale agriculture. The utility is involved in a lawsuit with three...

One year ago Iowans and Nebraskans enrolled in the healthcare startup Co-Opportunity Health found out they were losing their healthcare coverage. There are 11 other of these so-called “co-ops” that were funded by the federal government that have failed. The Affordable Care Act had set aside funding for these so-called health co-ops. They enabled organizations to compete in places where there weren’t many insurers. Most of the 120,000 members on Co-Opportunity Health were able to find new...

A year ago, Iowans enrolled in the healthcare startup Co-Opportunity found out they were losing their healthcare coverage. Since then a dozen of these so-called “co-ops” that were funded by the federal government have failed. The Affordable Care Act had set aside funding for these so-called health co-ops. They enabled organizations to compete in places where there weren’t many insurers. Most of the 120-thousand members on Co-Opportunity Health were able to find new coverage in the first 90...

Clay Masters / IPR

The Iowa caucuses are now 47 days away and many presidential candidates are descending on the state that kicks off presidential elections. Following last night’s Republican debate in Nevada, Marco Rubio held his first campaign stop in suburban Des Moines where he continued to go after fellow candidate and Senator Ted Cruz. The debate last night was a chance for candidates to remind Americans Donald Trump is NOT the only candidate seeking the Republican nomination. Some of the sharpest back...

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is stepping up his game in Iowa. The first term Texas senator has picked up influential endorsements there and is drawing bigger crowds. At the stage of the race when many caucus-goers are still deciding who to support in the first in the nation presidential caucus, Cruz is making a big play for Iowa evangelical voters, who helped Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Rick Santorum in 2012 win the Iowa Republican caucuses. On the first Sunday of Advent at the...

Clay Masters / IPR

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is stepping up his game in Iowa. The Texas Senator has picked up influential endorsements there and is drawing bigger crowds. Many caucus-goers are still deciding who to support in this state that kicks off presidential elections. Cruz is making a big play for the much-coveted Iowa evangelical vote. It was the first Sunday of advent at the Christian Life Assembly of God Church in Des Moines. Ted Cruz felt right at home. “It is so wonderful to have a...

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Carly Fiorina is a former executive at Hewlett Packard and she’s seeking the Republican presidential nomination. We reached her Friday morning at a campaign stop in Council Bluffs. Note: The conversation took place Friday morning before the attacks in Paris. Clay Masters: There was a lot of momentum behind your campaign coming out of those first two debates. What are you going to do in next 90 days to make sure you can keep momentum going or build a little bit more moving forward? Carly...

Photo by John Pemble

The new University of Iowa president, Bruce Harreld , says his biggest challenge in his new job is building trust across the entire UI community. Harreld’s first day was last week. The former IBM Executive faced scrutiny before he was selected for the job for how the search was conducted. Harreld says right now his job is to listen. “I asked all the deans to give me the senior most people in their faculty. Some are on the anti-Bruce line and some are on the positive,” Harreld told IPR’s...

NPR

It was here in Iowa where young voters helped propel Barack Obama to the White House in 2008. As the president leaves the oval office – Iowans have the opportunity to do the same in the caucuses in less than three months. Where does the youth vote stand now? NPR’s Michel Martin will be in Des Moines next week to hold a conversation on the topic. She talks with IPR's Clay Masters about the November 10th event at Drake University.

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