Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a correspondent in 2012.  He covers the statehouse when the legislature is in session, and reports on a variety of topics the rest of the year. Clay is an award-winning multi-media journalist whose radio stories have been heard on various NPR and American Public Media programs. His television documentaries have aired on PBS stations across the country. He’s also a regular contributor to NPR’s arts desk, covering indie music news.

Clay is a Nebraska native and worked for Nebraska Public Radio and Television (NET) before coming to IPR. He was one of the founding reporters of Harvest Public Media, the CPB-funded Local Journalism project covering agriculture in the Midwest.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

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Statehouse and Politics
12:04 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Senate Passes Medicaid Expansion in Iowa

Sen Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) introduces bill to expand Medicaid in the state before the full Senate on Monday March 25, 2013.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Republican and Democratic Senators clashed over a bill that would expand Medicaid in the Iowa. That’s the joint federal-state program that provides healthcare for low-income people. Last year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that under the Affordable Care Act… sometimes called Obamacare... it’s optional for states to expand Medicaid. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, the senate passed the bill along party lines.

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River to River
3:18 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Instructional Hours and Regents Nominees

A blanket of snow on the capitol lawn, one week after the beginning of Spring.
Credit John Pemble

There were some fireworks last week at the State Capitol as two of Governor Terry Branstad’s nominees to serve on the Iowa Board of Regents came before the Senate Education Committee.  Host Clay Masters talks with Senator Herman Quirmbach, Chair of the Senate Education Committee about lawmakers’ concerns.  And a discussion of whether the time students spend in school should be counted in days or hours.  A proposal making its way through the legislature would count instructional time in hours.

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River to River
2:09 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Quality Healthcare & Workforce Development

Iowa Capitol
John Pemble / IPR

Every Iowan should be able to get quality healthcare and find a job, but getting there is the battle. Today on River to River, Governor Branstad and the Democratic controlled Iowa Senate are sparring over how best to insure Iowans. We talk with the Governor’s top healthcare policy advisor about the governor’s recently unveiled Healthy Iowa plan. In the second half we talk with an economist about job creation in Iowa and hear from a Republican and Democratic lawmaker on bills that could create more jobs.

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Statehouse and Politics
5:10 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Senate Democrats Unveil Plan to Expand Medicaid with Opt-Out Option

Flanked by Senator Jack Hatch (left D-Des Moines) Senate Majority leader Mike Gronstal (right D-Council Bluffs) talks with reporters about the Democrats' Medicaid expansion plan on March 14, 2013.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Democrats in the Iowa senate say they’re extending an olive branch to Republican Governor Terry Branstad regarding their proposal to expand Medicaid in the state. The governor is opposed to expanding the joint federal state healthcare program for the poor mainly because he doesn’t believe the feds can continue to pay for it. Democrats are offering an opt-out provision in case federal funding levels would change.

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River to River
2:23 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Juvenile Sentencing

Paul "710928003" / flickr

Bills making their way through the legislative process would set sentencing options for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder.  The debate comes after a U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled juvenile offenders can not be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.  But, how much time is enough?  40, 50 or even 60 years?  Today on River to River, we talk about the legislation and how the courts have ruled on the treatment of juvenile offenders.

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River to River
3:38 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Water Quality and River and Lake Restoration

Storm Lake, IA
Denise Krebs / flickr

Many of Iowa's rivers and lakes are unable to support recreation and fishing and are in need of restoration. Governor Branstad's proposed budget cuts funding for restoration projects. Today on River to River, we talk with the Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, as well as people in communities impacted by the cuts.

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Crime, Justice and Public Safety
7:24 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Sentencing Juveniles for First Degree Murder

  Juveniles in Iowa who've committed first degree murder could be eligible for parole after serving 45 years in prison. That’s according to a bill discussed at the statehouse Thursday. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, it’s in reaction with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

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River to River
2:36 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Prescription Drug Monitoring and Distracted Driving

Iowa's Capitol
John Pemble

Prescription drug abuse is one of the fastest growing substance abuse problems in the state. What are preventive measures doctors can take to keep these drugs from getting into the wrong hands? A bill that would mandate physicians check a database before prescribing certain medication to their patients is being discussed at the statehouse. Today on River to River, we talk about ways this could possibly help or get in the way of the patient/doctor relationship.

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Statehouse
4:54 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Medicaid Expansion Starts Moving in the Senate

Senators Jack Hatch (D-Des Moines) and Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) advanced a bill out of subcomittee to expand Medicaid in Iowa.
Clay Masters IPR

A plan to add 150,000 Iowans to Medicaid, the joint federal-state healthcare program for the poor is advanced today in the Democratic-controlled Senate. That comes the day before Republican Governor Terry Branstad meets with President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services to talk about healthcare options. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports.

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Statehouse
5:12 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Reining in the Regents

Sen. Danielson (D-Cedar Falls) talks with IPR's Clay Masters on "River to River" February 11, 2013. Danielson is the sponsor of the bill that intends to make the Iowa Board of Regents more accountable.
John Pemble IPR

A bill intended to rein in the power of members of the Iowa Board of Regents drew various degrees of support from Iowans Wednesday at the statehouse. The proposal follows controversy over Regent Bruce Rastetter. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports.

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River to River
2:39 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Medicaid Expansion

Michael Bousselot, Governor Terry Branstad’s advisor on health care law issues, at the Capitol's law library.
John Pemble

Putting more Iowans on Medicaid is the center of much conversation between the governor and key legislators right now.  But is it the best option?

Today on “River to River” we’ll discuss the state’s Medicaid system and explore the virtues and future of IowaCares—a limited Medicaid benefit program that’s set to expire this year.  We’ll also hear about a bill the will expand the state’s Medicaid program.

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Politics
10:41 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Ethics Complaint Against Iowa Sen. Sorenson Dismissed, At Least For Now

Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson (R-Milo)
Credit Facebook

An Iowa Senate committee has dismissed an ethics complaint for now against State Sen. Kent Sorenson (R-Milo), who was accused of taking money from Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) presidential campaign.

Sorenson was the state chairman of Bachmann’s campaign in Iowa.  State Sen. Sandra Greiner (R-Washington) says the committee needs more information. 

“We cannot cite anybody for an ethics violation unless we have clear cut proof. So it’s on the complainant’s shoulders to provide us with the proof," Greiner says. "Sen. Sorenson is innocent until proven guilty.”

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Politics
9:50 am
Wed February 13, 2013

Lawmaker Pushes to Keep Gun Permits Private

Credit Flickr Creative Commons

The names of Iowans who obtain permits to carry a weapon would not be public record under a proposal introduced to a committee in the Iowa House.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Matt Windschitl (R - Missouri Valley), is a leading gun rights advocate. He sees keeping private the names of Iowans who get permits to carry or acquire weapons as a matter of public safety.

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Education
2:32 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

In Wake of Shootings, Iowa Schools Put Safety Plans in Place

Two portable classrooms sit outside Studebaker Elementary School in southeast Des Moines, readied to be sold. The Des Moines Public School District is getting rid of its portables because students had to walk between buildings regularly.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

As President Obama’s gun control proposals make their slow way through Congress, Iowa, and every state in the nation, is asking the same question. How do we protect our children from gun violence? Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters talked to some of the voices in this debate and visited a school in Des Moines.

At Studebaker elementary school in southeast Des Moines, students practice a fire drill.  They exit the building in single file.

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River to River
1:59 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Campaign Finance

John Pemble

Remember those television ads that you just couldn’t escape during the last year’s election?  The majority of them were paid for by outside spending. Now here in Iowa some lawmakers are calling for independent groups to disclose their top donors. 

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River to River
1:10 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Education Reform from Teachers & Administrators

Iowa's Capitol
John Pemble / IPR

Governor Branstad has laid out his plan for paying and promoting the state’s teachers. Last week we heard the Branstad administration’s pitch for the plan. This week, we’ll talk with school administrators and teacher representatives for their view. Our conversation legislative show is live from the state Capitol Law Library.


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Education
8:01 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Branstad's Education Proposals Get an Early Hearing

Gov. Branstad speaks to a state bullying summit in November. His education reform bill does not address school bullying.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Governor Branstad’s education reform proposal received high praise from those that helped inform its creation at a House committee hearing Tuesday. But some say it doesn’t confront major problems that face Iowa’s students.

The package includes raising beginning teacher salaries from $28,000 to $32,000. There’s tuition forgiveness for teachers that stay in Iowa. It creates pathways for veteran teachers to mentor new teachers so there’s incentive for them to stick with teaching.

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Crime, Justice and Public Safety
6:12 am
Thu January 17, 2013

Iowa's Chief Justice Calls for More Funding, Staffing for Courts

Credit SalFalko / Flickr

Iowa Chief Justice Mark Cady delivered his State of the Judiciary speech to a joint session of the Iowa Legislature Wednesday. He's calling for increased staffing in the court system, which has taken a hit in budget cuts in recent years.

Cady wants court offices around the state to stay open all week. Right now they close in the afternoons twice a week. He also tells lawmakers the state doesn’t have enough juvenile officers to reach all of Iowa’s children in need.

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River to River
1:16 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

The Start Of Iowa's 2013 Legislative Session

Iowa's Capitol
John Pemble

It’s opening day for the 2013 legislative session as all of the state’s law makers assemble at the capitol. Clay Masters speaks with House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, live at the Statehouse. They discuss gun laws, the state's surplus, and other issues that may unfold during the upcoming session.

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Business
3:46 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Mississippi River Level Disrupts Supply Chain

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 5:26 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning.

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Business/Economy
9:13 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Shipping Woes Along the Mississippi River

A grain elevator owned by Cargill sits along the Mississippi River in Muscatine, Iowa.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

With lingering drought keeping the crucial Mississippi River waterway at historically low levels, some projected that barge traffic on the river would come to a scraping halt in early January. It hasn’t proved to be quite as bad – the Army Corps of Engineers now says the river will likely stay open for transportation at least through the month – but many grain and energy industries that rely on sending products up and down the river aren’t yet breathing a sigh of relief.  

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Business/Economy
1:44 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Curbside Bus Services Increase in Iowa, United States

A Double Decker Megabus idles in Omaha. It makes stops in Des Moines and Iowa City before reaching its final destination of Chicago.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

More than 93 million people are expected to be jumping in their cars and traveling this holiday season according to Triple-A. But there’s a new trend emerging that is rivaling the car and even some airlines. Curbside buses are extending routes. Even through the unlikely sparsely populated Midwest and Great Plains.

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Crime, Justice and Public Safety
5:50 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Parents of Murdered Children Push Death Penalty

Heather and Drew Collins, the parents of slain Evansdale girl Elizabeth Collins, met with Governor Branstad Monday to talk about getting the death penalty reinstated in Iowa.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

In the wake of the discovery the bodies of two northeastern Iowa girls earlier this month, the talk of reinstating the death penalty is back at the state capitol. But proponents of capital punishment know they face a tough fight.

Iowa parents who have lost children due to kidnapping and murder met with Governor Branstad Monday morning to talk about reinstating the death penalty. Afterwards at a press conference, the parents told their stories.

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Education
11:23 pm
Sun December 16, 2012

Combating Bullying of Gay Youth in Iowa

Newton High School Senior Ella Daft stands outside Newton High School.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Same sex marriage is legal in Iowa and it appears to be gaining acceptance. A Supreme Court justice who was part of the ruling that paved the way for same-sex marriage was retained in a heated campaign this year. But advocates for gay teens say bullying is still a problem in schools. 

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Crime, Justice and Public Safety
7:12 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Birth Certificate Debate Heads to Iowa Supreme Court

Melissa and Heather Gartner with their daughter.
Credit / Courtesy of Des Moines Register

The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit over whether a same-sex Des Moines married couple should BOTH stay on their daughter’s birth certificate. The Polk county district court already ruled in favor of the couple.

Representing the Iowa Department of Health was Deputy Attorney General Julie Pottorff. She argued opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples remain different in one immutable way. Only opposite sex couples can conceive a child.

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Crime, Justice and Public Safety
7:26 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Police Confident Bodies are Missing Cousins

Credit Facebook

12/6/12  4:30 PM UPDATE: 

The Black Hawk County Sheriff's Department says they're confident that two bodies discovered Wednesday by hunters in a Bremer County wildlife area are those of Elizabeth Collins and her cousin Lyric Cook-Morrissey. 

"We have no one else that’s missing in this area, we have two bodies that were found, smaller in stature, so we have nothing to think other than that at this time," Sheriff’s Captain Rick Abben said. 

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Education
5:15 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

Bullying Prevention Summit Focuses on Community Solutions

Parenting and Bullying Expert Rosalind Wiseman talks to a crowd of more than 1100 at the Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

More than 1100 Iowa educators, students and community members from across the state came to Des Moines Tuesday for Governor Branstad’s first Bullying Prevention Summit. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports the message was not just about how to respond to bullying, but how to prevent it.

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Politics
4:18 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Branstad: Presidential Candidates will Determine Straw Poll's Fate

Credit Office of Governor Branstad / Facebook

Governor Branstad continues to say the Iowa Straw poll is losing its importance in the presidential race. Branstad says the candidates will ultimately decide whether or not it stays.

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River to River
2:12 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Iowa's Reddest and Bluest Counties

Des Moines Register

We talk about blue and red states during elections… but what about blue and red counties?  Chris Larimer of the University of Northern Iowa analyzed some of Iowa’s most democratic and republican counties, and tells us what might influence those voting patterns. Wayne Moyer from Grinnell College and Bruce Nesmith from Coe College join in our conversation about the political news of the day.

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Environment
4:32 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Branstad Unveils Water Pollution Strategy

The darker regions show watersheds with high levels of nitrogen pollution. The squiggly grey lines represent the 818 watersheds that flow into the Gulf of Mexico.
Credit USGS

  A strategy on how Iowa will cut back farm and sewage treatment pollution released today by Governor Branstad’s office is being criticized for being too friendly to farmers. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, its intent is to shrink a dead zone in the nation’s top commercial fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.

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