The Iowa Senate Oversight Committee questioned current and former judges who rule on unemployment benefits for laid-off state workers. Senators are looking into allegations that management at Iowa Workforce Development favors employers over employees in contested cases.
State officials who oversee unemployment benefits for laid-off workers say they are beefing up their fraud investigations, even as unemployment claims have fallen. Half the investigative staff quit when they took advantage of an early retirement offer.
Governor Terry Branstad is defending his reluctance to grant asylum to unaccompanied children fleeing extreme violence in Central America.
"It would be wrong for us to send a signal that if you come here illegally, we're just gonna disperse you throughout the country and you don't have to go home."
Social justice advocate Connie Ryan Terrell of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa says many in Iowa’s faith community are disappointed with Branstad's decision, since the state has a history of welcoming immigrants.
A compromise budget bill means the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo will not reopen next year. Democrats say the home will remain closed for the time being, regardless of the outcome of their lawsuit against the governor.
The Branstad administration has spent close to half a million dollars on an initiative designed to convince more companies to locate here rather than in another state. Four industrial sites have been designated as project ready, a trend officials say is catching on around the country.
The predictions are out there that Iowa's legislative session will wrap up early this week. On Mondays we check in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to make sense of everything going on up at the capitol.
A bill to allow Iowa families to travel to other states and bring back a form of medical marijuana advanced in the Iowa Senate. Mothers of epileptic kids pushed hard for the legislation, saying cannabis oil can help relieve their children’s seizures.
A senate subcommittee has approved a bill that would let the parents of children with a severe form of epilepsy go out of state to get an oil-based form of medical marijuana for their children. The bill will be considered by a full senate committee sometime after five o'clock today.
Democrats in the Iowa Senate got the ball rolling on a bill that’s a dream come true for environmentalists and natural resource advocates. The bill raises the state sales tax for a natural resources trust fund that voters approved by constitutional amendment two years ago. Backers added a tax cut to the bill to soften the blow.
The Iowa legislature’s oversight committee questioned top administrators at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services over payments made to laid-off state workers for keeping their settlements with the state confidential. But lawmakers still don't know where the authorization for the so-called hush money came from.
In a procedural vote, the Iowa House turned down a million dollar appropriation to match private donations to Iowa’s food banks. The legislature passed a similar measure last year, but Governor Branstad vetoed it. One House Democrat spoke with unusual authority. Representative Ako Abdul-Samaad of Des Moines runs a soup kitchen as part of the Creative Visions social service agency he heads. Here are some of his remarks.
In the Iowa House, the wheels fell off an agreement to freeze tuition for another year at Iowa’s Regents Universities, but only if all three schools get a 4% increase in state funds. Republicans have agreed to mandate the freeze, but not all the schools will get their promised raise.
Almost every day last week we were getting updates on these so-called confidential settlements made by the Branstad administration. More than 400,000 dollars has been paid out to laid off staffers. IPR's Clay Masters gets the latest on it and other ongoing legislative issues from statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell.
Democrats in the Iowa Senate heard from four former state employees who lost their jobs in what the Branstad administration terms a reorganization of state government. Democrats object to what they call mass layoffs of so-called merit employees who were hired for their expertise, not their political connections. One worker told of receiving money for keeping her settlement private, a practice which Governor Branstad has now banned.
The Iowa Republican party has a new chairman. Former chair A.J. Spiker announced his resignation last month, he left to join Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s political action committee. Over the weekend the Iowa GOP Board elected former state legislator and lobbyist for social conservative organization The Family Leader, Danny Carroll. He shares his thoughts on several issues with IPR's Clay Masters.
A bill on Governor Branstad’s to-do list is sparking controversy at the statehouse. The bill addresses the problem of bullying in the schools, especially as it occurs on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. But how much money to spend on the problem remains a stumbling block. Also, a coalition of conservative House Republicans has its own ideas.
The issue of the Branstad administration's confidential settlements with laid-off state workers still seems to be front and center at the capitol. As much as $400,000 was given out to fired workers. That doesn't show up on any budgets or balance sheets. The governor for his part has outlawed such settlements. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to discuss where things stand with the settlements and other issues up for discussion in the legislature this week.
There are 20 women now serving in the U.S. Senate including Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri. She is this semester’s Iowa State University Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics where Friday she delivered a lecture on the Ames campus.
A three-member panel at the statehouse signed off on a bill to end greyhound racing at casinos in Council Bluffs and Dubuque. The casinos and the communities where they’re located say dog racing is a dying sport. But the greyhound industry is putting up a good fight.
Former Democratic U.S. Senator John Culver served 16 years in Congress. He now lives in Washington D.C., but he’ll be back in Iowa later this week to visit the Culver Public Policy Center at Simpson College in Indianola.
Cuts to the Department of Public Safety during the recession have left some Iowa counties without a single state trooper in residence. Now, the shortage may be alleviated under a justice system budget bill at the Statehouse.
Under the bill, the Department of Public Safety would receive about $6 million to hire 33 new troopers. Representative Gary Worthan (R-Storm Lake) says in the overnight hours, there are as few as 6 patrol officers on duty in the entire state.
There are a number of signs that things are wrapping up much earlier this year at the Iowa statehouse. Republican and Democratic Leaders in the House and Senate say they are well ahead of schedule and there’s a few issues shaking out that will likely be fodder in 2014 campaigns.
A recent investigative report by the Des Moines Register uncovered secret settlements made by the state to fired state workers. Those ex-staffers say they were let go because of their ties to Democrats.
Statehouse Democrats say the legislature's oversight committee will be very busy in the coming weeks, as they look into recent allegations against the Terry Branstad administration. They say the panel will first look into reports of secret settlements to fired state workers.
Many were anticipating budget targets last week, Democrats who control the Senate and Republicans who control the House, have come to some kind of an agreement or a launching point. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to preview the week ahead at the capitol.