Joyce Russell

Correspondent

Joyce Russell is a correspondent based at the Iowa Statehouse. Joyce has been covering the Iowa Statehouse since shortly after joining the news staff at WOI Radio in 1988. Her earlier broadcasting experience included news reporting at commercial stations in Oklahoma City and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Joyce’s reports can be heard on National Public Radio and American Public Media programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Marketplace.  She covered the last six Iowa caucus campaigns and interviewed numerous candidates for president, including some who went on to attain the highest office in the land.   

Joyce  has a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Louis University and  a master’s degree in English from the University of Oklahoma.   

Joyce’s favorite public radio program is Fresh Air.

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Joyce Russell/IPR

The NAACP held a day-long symposium Friday on the overrepresentation of African-Americans in Iowa prisons.   

The symposium addressed a wide range of issues, from racial profiling to the underrepresentation of minorities on Iowa juries.  

The NAACP cites statistics showing the overrepresentation of minorities in corrections is worse in Iowa than in any other state, in particular for drug offenses.  

Arnold Woods with the Des Moines NAACP says it’s not an abstract topic for blacks.

Asya Acka/Radio Iowa

Democratic candidate for President Hillary Clinton rolled out her plans for rural America during a stop in Ankeny Wednesday.  

Clinton addressed a crowd of about 250 in the FFA building at Des Moines Area Community College,  with a John Deere tractor as a backdrop. 

“I know it’s a little unusual for a candidate for President to be making a speech about this at a community college instead of a barn or bale of hay,” Clinton says.  “But at least we got a tractor,” she joked.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz delivered one red meat applause line after another to a receptive crowd today at the Des Moines Register soapbox at the Iowa State Fair.  

Cruz is  running for the Republican nomination for president.   Like other conservative candidates, he wants to dismantle most of the federal government, repeal Obamacare, and secure the borders.   

He says the fatal shooting of servicemembers at recruiting centers in Tennessee should never happen again.

Asya Akca

Republicans in the Iowa House have chosen Clear Lake Representative Linda Upmeyer to be the next Speaker of the House, and the first woman to hold the position.     Upmeyer will take over from current speaker, Hiwawatha Republican  Kraig Paulsen.  

The top Democrat in the House was quick to criticize the new leadership.   And Upmeyer’s Republican opponent for the top spot says his party needs some fresh ideas.  

Joyce Russell/IPR

  Former Texas Governor Rick Perry drew a crowd on the state fairground’s grand concourse today, taking his turn at the Des Moines Register’s Soapbox and making his case he should be the Republican nominee for President.     He drew cheers with a strong anti-Washington message.  

 “I think what this country needs is a proven leader day in and day out who will go to the Oval Office and make Washington D.C. as inconsequential as we can make it,” Perry says.   “I can do this.”     

He says Washington’s only role should be to secure the borders, and to build up the military:

Joyce Russell/IPR

  Ohio Governor and Republican candidate for President John Kasich attracted a crowd of about a hundred people at the Iowa State Fair today, taking his turn on the Des Moines Register’s Soapbox.      

Rain forced the event inside.  

Kasich is appealing to moderates rather than conservatives in the race for the Republican nomination.

“I ran for office because I thought I could make a difference,” Kasich says.   “I’m a Republican but it has always been my vehicle and never been my master.”  

Russell/IPR

South Carolina Senator and candidate for the Republican nomination for President Lindsey Graham addressed a crowd of about a hundred people in West Des Moines today.  

Graham is travelling the country arguing for a "no" vote in Congress for the Obama Administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran.  

Flanked by a banner proclaiming “No Nukes for Iran,”   Graham says the agreement will promote terrorism in the Middle East. 

He presents himself as the strongest security hawk in the race.  And he vows to fight radical Islam with more U.S. ground troops overseas.

Joyce Russell/IPR

The NAACP announced today it will host a two-day summit next month to take a comprehensive look at racial disparities in Iowa’s criminal justice system.  

Law enforcement, judges, corrections officials and others will examine why African-Americans make up a bigger percentage in Iowa prisons than they do in the population as a whole.   

It’s a bigger event than the group has sponsored in the past.   

Governor Branstad will attend and the national NAACP will be on hand for the Iowa Summit on Justice and Disparities.  

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad says it’s too early to predict a winner in the race for the Republican nomination for president.   But he says that it will probably not be real estate mogul Donald Trump in spite of his first place ranking in current national polls, and his second place standing among Iowa voters.

"It's way early and polls at this point in time tend to reflect name recognition," Branstad says. "And, obviously, he's a TV personality who has a lot of recognition, but there's a lot of really good candidates in this race.”

Joyce Russell/IPR

Real estate mogul and Republican candidate for president Donald Trump says he expects the other candidates to come after him hard when they meet in a debate next month.    But Trump is downplaying expectations for his performance.  

Only the candidates polling in the top ten will be allowed to participate.   

“I'm by far number one to the chagrin of many people,” Trump said at a news conference in Oskaloosa Saturday.   “But I’m not a debater.  I produce jobs.  I never stood at a podium and debated a large number of people.”  

So  many people turned out to hear real estate mogul and Republican candidate for president Donald Trump in Oskaloosa yesterday, they had to put several hundred in an overflow room.  

 Trump drew a larger crowd than his Republican opponents have been attracting.

More than 60-percent of likely voters nationwide tell pollsters they would never vote for Trump.   The crowd in Oskaloosa didn’t’ get that memo. 

Trump’s Iowa campaign manager Chuck Laudner is a long-time backer of anti-establishment candidates. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Former Hewlett Packard Executive Carly Fiorina brought her presidential campaign to the Tassel Ridge winery near Oskaloosa   last night.   

It’s part of a four day campaign swing through the state. 

About seventy people showed up to hear Fiorina distinguish herself from what she calls the professional politicians she’s running against.  

She gives a hard-hitting conservative stump speech.   She looks ahead to fighting the likely Democratic opponent.   

“If we want to win we have to throw every punch at Hillary Clinton,” Fiorina says.

GoIowaState.com/flickr

The Iowa Board of Regents is continuing its court fight in the case of Bubu Palo, the former Iowa State University basketball player who was accused of sexual assault back in May of 2012.  

The Regents want a new ruling in the case, even though Palo has left the university and now plays in the National Basketball Association Development League. 

Palo was charged in Story County District Court with sexual abuse, but prosecutors later dropped the charge. 

Iowa State argued that Palo had violated university disciplinary code and should be kept off the team.     

General Frank Grass/flickr

Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered a review of security at all Iowa National Guard facilities including recruiting stations after last week’s fatal shooting of Marine and Navy personnel in Chattanooga, Tenn. 

The Chattanooga shootings began at a recruiting station and ended at a military base, killing five people. In several states governors ordered the arming of guardsmen and women at recruiting stations and other facilities after the fatal attack.  

Clay Masters / IPR

Ten Republican Presidential candidates vied for the evangelical vote Saturday in Ames at a forum sponsored by the leading Christian conservative group the Family Leader.

Nearly three thousand people showed up, including 250 pastors.    So far, no one has the important religious right vote sewn up.

There was a lot of agreement on display, against abortion and same-sex marriage, for religious liberty, and for a strong alliance with Israel. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

The Iowa Public Information Board which is charged with enforcing Iowa’s open records law yesterday voted to continue looking into a fatal police shooting in Burlington earlier this year.    The Board must decide whether the public has the right to see a police report on the shooting and other materials  including 911 calls and a dash cam video.  

In January, Officer Jesse Hill responded to a fight between 34-year-old Autumn Steele and her husband.   Steele’s dog bit the officer, and Hill fired his gun twice, killing Ms. Steele.  

Iowa Department of Transportation

Every year across the country children die of heatstroke after being left in locked vehicles. The Iowa Department of Transportation wants to make sure that doesn’t happen here.  

This week, the electronic billboard on Iowa interstates includes the slogan, “Where’s Baby?  Look Before you Lock.”      

The campaign comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Clay Masters/IPR

Iowa Fourth District Republican Rep. Steve King today showed up on the Washington Post’s list of questionable tweets by members of Congress. But the project that made his activity public was shut down after Twitter withdrew its permission.  

Twitter gave the Sunlight Foundation access to deleted tweets by members of Congress and King’s activity caught some attention. The congressman retweeted a message from someone getting on the subway.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Florida senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio drew an early-morning crowd at the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, a popular stop for candidates.    

More than 200 turned out for breakfast at the Machine Shed Restaurant to hear the 44-year-old son of Cuban immigrants who’s on a three-day tour of the state.

Rubio’s stump speech included strengthening the economy, reforming higher education, and asserting American leadership abroad. Rubio promised to reform entitlement programs and confront aggression abroad in Russia, China and the Middle East.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Representative of Iowa industries which emit more than 100 tons of material into the atmosphere each year were at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Air Quality Bureau today.

They’re weighing in on plans to raise their fees to better enforce the Federal  Clean Air Act. 

The DNR proposes a new $24,000 application fee for operating permits.   Also companies would pay more each year per ton of emissions.   

Bureau  Chief Catherine Fitzsimmons says with the new money, the DNR can hire more staff.  

iprimages

Governor Branstad Thursday vetoed millions of dollars in state spending the legislature approved last month, saying some of the appropriations are unsustainable. 

He trimmed back the more than seven billion dollar state budget for the fiscal year that started this week. 

The vetoes cut education spending for K-12 schools, community colleges, and the Regents Universities.  

Education advocates call the K-12 cuts shameful.   Regents President Bruce Rastetter says they’ll begin considering what tuition levels should be next spring. 

John Pemble/IPR

Governor Branstad is hearing from county attorneys around the state, as he debates whether to sign a last-minute item in a catch-all spending bill.  

The provision would privatize the collection of court fines and fees to bring in an estimated $12 million more next year.    

The Judicial Branch has pushed to improve the collection of delinquent fines.  The bill would bypass the state’s Central Collection Unit and assign the work to a private debt collector.   

DonkeyHotey/flickr

An immigrant rights group has polled likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers to get their views on immigration.   The group hopes to use the results to influence the Republican race for President. 

The Partnership for a New American Economy commissioned the poll of 400 likely GOP caucus-goers.  

Seventy-seven percent support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and fewer than one in five favor deportation.   

Republican strategist John Stineman says the survey shows a pro-reform candidate can win in Iowa. 

BOSTONTX / FLICKR

A handful of new laws go into effect July 1 as a result of the 2015 legislative session. Among those that will be most noticeable for the general public – Iowans will be able to buy growlers full of craft beers brewed in Iowa anywhere that has a class "C" alcohol license. That includes grocery stores and gas stations, for example. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad says last week’s momentous U.S. Supreme Court ruling will not have a big impact in Iowa, since same-sex marriage has been well-established in the state since 2009.  

The governor today commented on the fact that county officials in other states may try to deny licenses to same-sex couples in protest.   

Branstad says he’s not aware of any way that could happen here.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Ohio Governor John Kasich, the latest Republican to say he’s interested in running for his party’s nomination for president, attracted a crowd of about 200 people in Des Moines today.   

During a forum at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Kasich distinguished himself from the rest of the field.  He criticized the pro-ethanol renewable fuel standard, and called for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. 

Kasich says the Republican Party is his vehicle, not his master.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad Monday went to a John Deere dealership in Perry to sign a bill to facilitate more broadband in Iowa.     

It’s dubbed the Connect Acre Bill, and Branstad says agriculture is just one business that will benefit from more high-speed internet access.   

The bill includes property tax breaks for communications companies to build out broadband to underserved areas, but not the five million dollars in grants the governor asked for. 

Photo by John Pemble

It appears that Governor Branstad is not ruling out an appeal of Friday’s Iowa Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for continued use of so-called telemed abortions.  

The court ruled that the Iowa Board of Medicine placed an unconstitutional burden on women when it banned the administration of abortion-inducing drugs without a doctor in the room. 

Under the procedure, a doctor uses two-way telecommunication to oversee a patient taking an abortion-inducing drug. Governor Branstad disagrees with the ruling.

Photo by John Pemble

Iowa’s two Republican U.S. Senators Tuesday split their votes on a measure to strengthen the U.S. ban on torturing detainees.  

Senator Chuck Grassley voted yes on an amendment to bolster current law and give the Red Cross access to all detainees.   Senator Joni Ernest was among 21 Senators voting no.

“It is not wise to let our enemies known what our techniques are--that allows them to train, resist, and defeat it," Ernst said.

She says the president should be able to authorize torture if there’s a potential threat against Americans. 

Clay Masters/IPR

Iowa Republican U.S. Senator Joni Ernst says new rules to combat sexual assault in the military are working.    And she says more time is needed before taking more difficult steps to address the problem.  

Ernst voted Tuesday against taking the commanding officer out of the decision to prosecute offenders.   

Ernst says she doesn’t want to tie the hands of a commanding officer who may want to prosecute an offender.    

She says a December survey shows military personnel are expressing more trust in their commanding officers.

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