River to River

Weekdays at 12 p.m. on IPR News and News/Studio One and 10 p.m. on IPR News

River to River is Iowa Public Radio's talk program focusing on the news, issues and events in our state. This national award-winning program goes beyond the headlines, frames community problems, and fosters conversation. On Mondays during the legislative session, join in conversations with lawmakers and those impacted by action at the Statehouse.  Wednesdays, political analysts from around the state help you dissect the week in politics.  Fridays we buzz through the week’s big news stories.

River to River is hosted by Ben Kieffer.  It’s produced by Emily Woodbury, @EmilyWoodbury, Lindsey Moon @lindseysmoon and Clare Roth @ClareAliceRoth.  Our Executive Producer is Katherine Perkins.  Our theme music is by The River Monks.

John Pemble

McCoy, You’re Going Straight to Hell – that’s the title of State Senator Matt McCoy’s new book. In it, Iowa’s highest-ranking openly gay elected official shares personal stories and opinions sent to him on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate.

"Not only was I going straight to hell, but I was bringing the souls of innocent Iowans with me...all these souls that would be lost as a result of marriage equality," he says.

In this River to River interview, Ben Kieffer talks with Sen. McCoy about the book, as well as his future political ambitions.

John Pemble

Iowa has a law mandating life in prison without parole for teen killers, but this law is deemed unconstitutional by both the U.S. and the Iowa Supreme Courts.

A proposal moving through Iowa’s legislature would modify the state’s current law mandating life in prison for juveniles convicted of murder. The legislation gives judges three sentencing options. One of those options is still life in prison without parole.

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

Last night, swimming history was made in Iowa City. David Nolan of Texas swam the fastest 200-yard individual medley in history. It took him only one minute and thirty nine seconds to swim eight lengths of the pool doing four different strokes. 

For the first time in decades, Iowa is host to the NCAA men's Swimming and Diving Championships. On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Marc Long, University of Iowa's men and women swimming and diving coach about the significance of the event.

Nepal Gateway Trekking / Flickr

Marijuana is often branded as harmless by its proponents, but according to the 2012 Iowa Drug Report, 26% of Iowans seeking drug treatment cite the plant as their drug of choice. Ned Presnall, keynote speaker of the upcoming Governor's Conference on Substance Abuse, says decriminalization has led to decreased perceptions of risk.

Emily Woodbury

March is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) awareness month. TBI has been called a silent epidemic. In many cases, resulting injuries are not visible to others, and it affects more than 95,000 Iowans.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Ted Cruz officially announced his presidential bid Monday.

"Over and over again when we faced impossible odds, the American people rose to the challenge. You know compared to that, repealing Obamacare and abolishing the IRS ain't all that tough," Cruz said.

Tim Lucas / flickr

"We gain so much more when we focus on people’s positives," says lawyer, speaker, and freelance disability consultant, Matan Koch.

Koch will speak at Coe College the evening of March 24. Ahead of his appearance, Ben Kieffer talks with Koch about how to encourage the talent, purchasing power, and experience of the disability community.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa Senate is unlikely to take up the issue of collective bargaining, so why did the House debate it until 10 PM last Tuesday?

State Rep. Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, felt that the bill was a distraction from the bigger issue of school funding.

"They are waiting to know what their funds will be for this upcoming school year and we felt like this entire bill was a distraction and that's why we totally opposed it," Steckman says.

But State Rep. Greg Forristall, a Republican from Macedonia, says that these processes sometimes take years. 

Tamer Koseli / flickr

When The Gazette filed an open records request with the Cedar Rapids Community School District, the district quoted the cost of the information at $260,000.

That’s a pretty high starting point," says Erin Jordan, reporter for The Gazette and KCRG. "A lot of people seeing that would think, 'Well that number is designed to make the requester go away.'"

With negotiations, the paper ended up paying the district only $740 for most of the documents originally requested.

BostonTx / flickr

As Iowans consume more local craft beer, there's demand for more convenient access. So, what if 64-ounce glass to-go containers, known as growlers, were available at local grocery stores and gas stations?

A bill being considered by the Iowa Senate would do just that.

Iowa Senator Jeff Danielson (D) proposed the legislation, which he says complies with both Class C liquor licenses and open container laws. He chairs the senate committee in charge of alcohol and gaming. He says the committee takes its time considering all the potential ramifications of any new liquor law.

Sarah Boden/Iowa Public Radio

Does the Iowa Constitution protect the right to a so-called telemed abortion? That’s a question currently before the Iowa Supreme Court.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Todd Pettys, Associate Dean for Faculty and H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation at the University of Iowa College of Law, and Ryan Koopmans, attorney at Nyemaster Goode law firm in Des Moines.

Sarah Viren

Imagine you are married and have a daughter. When your spouse gets a job in another state, you plan for everything - including the fact that your new state does not recognize your same-sex marriage.

Today on River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Sarah Viren about her move from Iowa City to Lubbock, Texas, recounted in her essay, “How to Unmarry Your Wife."

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 do that anymore. It's immoral.'"

Have you ever wondered which songs your state representative puts on repeat?

Iowa Public Radio’s Bob Dorr asked himself that question after State Representative Scott Ourth from Warren County reached out to him through social media.

Wikimedia Commons

The 2015 Cancer in Iowa report released today shows a drastic jump in the number of cases of skin cancer in the state.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

This week, 47 GOP senators, including Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Joni Ernst, signed an open letter to Iran saying any nuclear deal struck with the US would be “nothing more than an executive agreement.”

Photo by Kris Krüg / Pop!Tech

Laurie Garrett says that when Thomas Duncan came down with Ebola in Texas, national media coverage became "over the top."

Penn State / flickr

NPR legal affairs correspondent, Nina Totenberg, has covered the U.S. Supreme Court for many years, translating court cases and generating interest in the judicial system with audiences all over the country.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

State lawmakers are working to advance a bill that would legalize sound suppressors for guns and allow children of any age to handle a gun under parental supervision, among other measures.

Bret Hartman / TED Conference / flickr

David Gallo is a pioneer in mapping ocean terrain.

Jonathon Colman

A recent poll shows that a majority of Americans (71%) now say the war in Iraq “wasn’t worth it.” That’s similar to sentiments from the Vietnam era about that conflict.

Caleb Smith / Speaker John Boehner via Flickr

Netanyahu stressed Iran’s “radical” regime, saying there is no difference between the country and ISIS in terms of “imposing a militant Islamic empire.”

Iowa DNR

Water use in Iowa has climbed 72% since the 1970’s, and according to state officials, current usage rates are unsustainable. 

Alex Heuer

Iowa’s new state penitentiary in Fort Madison is still empty, and now officials are worried about frozen pipes.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Sheriff's officers across the state say there aren't enough beds for Iowa's mentally ill, and some lawmakers are joining their cause.

Budi Nusyirwan / Flickr

This month the Federal Aviation Administration released proposed guidelines for commercial unmanned aerial systems—commonly known as ‘drones.’

Mark / flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Last year's legislation that decriminalized possession of cannabis oil for treatment of chronic epilepsy has not changed much for Iowa patients hoping to use the drug for treatment.

John Pemble

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

Wikimedia Commons

A group of men were harassing a woman in Ames when bystander Cale Truhlsen of West Des Moines stepped in to try and stop it.    

European Southern Observatory / Flickr

The Kepler mission has found thousands of potentially habitable planets. But how can we truly know if they sustain life?

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