Statehouse and Politics

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A bipartisan senate committee voted overwhelmingly to ease the penalties for some cases of first-time marijuana possession.  

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter denies that there’s a political agenda behind a new proposed funding formula for Iowa's three state universities.

John Pemble / IPR

Democrats who control the Iowa Senate are proposing a big push for school funding. But it could be a tough sell. It’s just one of the issues being discussed up at the statehouse. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about that as well as challenges in the overall proposed state budget and continued talks about a hike in the state's gas tax to pay for the state's deficient roads and bridges. 

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The Iowa Department of Public Safety has proposed legislation that would make hand-held cell phone calls while driving illegal and would make texting while driving a primary offense. 

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Earlier this week in the midst of a measles outbreak at Disneyland, Rand Paul stated that vaccinations should be voluntary.

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There’s a new coalition at the statehouse of African-American Democrats and free enterprise Republicans.  

John Pemble/IPR

A bill to allow Iowa’s two fully online schools to continue operation cleared a hurdle in the House yesterday.    

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More Iowa four-year-olds could enroll in preschool under a bill in the Iowa Senate. 

Photo by John Pemble

Today Governor Terry Branstad announced the details of a bill to toughen penalties for repeat domestic violence offenders.

Photo by John Pemble

Lawmakers gained ground on a method to pay for the state’s deficient roads and bridges last week. It was one of the many issues likely to be an issue this week. 

Gas Tax Dreams

Jan 29, 2015
Joyce Russell/IPR

A coalition of cities, counties, and economic development officials lobby lawmakers for better roads.  

Photo by John Pemble

Arts advocates made their case at the Capitol during a Senate Education Committee meeting.  They want lawmakers to make fine arts part of the Iowa Core for K-12 education.  Leon Kuehner, executive director of the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education and a former band director, says the arts are a fundamental part of education. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

The head of the Iowa Board of Regents says Iowa is behind other states in performance-based funding for public universities. 

Frank Guido

Iowa has a shortage of skilled workers, leaving jobs in some of the most thriving industries unfilled.

Governor Branstad Taken to Hospital by Ambulance

Jan 26, 2015
Photo by John Pemble

Governor Terry Branstad has been taken to a Des Moines hospital by ambulance.  Branstad's spokesman says he "fell ill" at an event this morning due to a "seasonal illness." The Governor was speaking at Du Pont Pioneer in Johnston at the time. Branstad, who is 68 years old, held his weekly news conference this morning at the statehouse. He was coughing and was quizzed by a reporter about his health.

"I've got a bad cold, and so does the Lieutenant Governor. We've had it off and on for some time... couple weeks or more."

John Pemble / IPR

  Debates over how much of a raise to give to the state's schools usually dominates early discussions at the capitol. Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell tells IPR's Clay Masters this year the debate is on time. The two discuss other education topics and what's ahead this week. 

Photo by Clay Masters

The Iowa caucuses are still more than a year away, but last night a parade of potential 2016 presidential candidates appeared in Des Moines Saturday. 

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In her State of the Union response, freshman Senator Joni Ernst repeated an anecdote from her victory speech evoking her "down-home" upbringing.

Mercedes Potter

Iowa’s tourism industry does not support a bill in the Iowa House that would allow school districts and private accredited schools to begin the academic year earlier than Sept. 1.  The industry worries an earlier start to the school year would deplete the high-school-age workforce during late summer.

Gaela Wilson of the Iowa Group Travel Association says tourism greatly affects small town economies since summertime dollars flow into the rest of the community.

John Pemble/IPR

The annual State of the Union address last night offered a national spotlight for Iowa’s junior senator.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Specialty crop farmers were at the capitol today complaining of damage to their produce from pesticide drift.


Iowa’s senior U.S. senator put forth legislation today to protect farmers during bankruptcy.

John Pemble / IPR

The Republican Governor of Iowa is on track to become the longest serving Governor in the history of the United States. Terry Branstad was sworn into his sixth non-consecutive term last week.

Young of Iowa

Iowa Congressman David Young says his first week in Congress was extremely busy.

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Terry Branstad was sworn in for his sixth non-consecutive term as governor in Des Moines surrounded by many supporters including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  

John Pemble

U.S.  Senator Joni Ernst will be the first freshman senator to give the GOP rebuttal to the State of the Union address.    

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President Obama announced a new plan to support community-run broadband in Cedar Falls today.

Photo by John Pemble / IPR

Governor Branstad outlined his priorities for this year’s legislative session in a thirty minute Condition of the State speech Tuesday.


U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says now that Republicans are in control of the Senate, he wants a greater focus on Congressional oversight.

One way the Iowa Republican is affecting this shift is by co-sponsoring a bill that changes Congressional budgeting from a one-year to a two-year cycle. He says the second year of the schedule allows Congress more time for the review, monitoring, and supervision of federal programs.

John Pemble / IPR

Legislative leaders agree a tight budget will sharpen the focus on priorities this session. Identifying those priorities may be the sticking point.