Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a statehouse and political correspondent in 2012 and started hosting IPR’s Morning Edition in 2014. Clay is an award-winning multi-media journalist whose radio stories have been heard on various NPR and American Public Media programs.

He was one of the founding reporters of Harvest Public Media, the regional journalism consortium covering agriculture and food production in the Midwest. He was based in Nebraska where he worked for Nebraska’s statewide public radio and television network. 

Clay continues to report on a wide variety of topics including politics, health and the environment. He’s also a regular music contributor to NPR’s arts desk.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

Ways To Connect

John Pemble / IPR

At least one state senator is calling for the person in charge of the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown to step down so a more thorough investigation can be conducted. This follows repeated complaints over management of the Veterans home. The Senate Veterans Affairs committee held a meeting Monday  to hear testimony. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Under an agreement with the EPA, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will have to inspect 1,600 livestock facilities each year, for the next five years.  Debate at the Iowa Statehouse is centering around how many inspectors are needed to do the job.  Then, Iowa was one of the first states to approve a graduated driver's license system for teens. Since then, the state has dropped to 49th in rankings of teen driving safety.  A new Iowa law puts more restrictions on the youngest and most inexperienced drivers.

John Pemble / IPR

All this week, IPR’s Clay Masters has been talking with Iowans who receive Medicaid services to get their input on the debate between Governor Branstad and the Democratic-controlled state Senate over expanding Medicaid.

River to River wraps up the series with host Ben Kieffer sitting down with Clay and several Medicaid recipients, as well as the Governor’s healthcare policy advisor Michael Bousselot and Democratic state senator Pam Jochum.

Clay Masters / IPR

There’s a showdown of sorts between Iowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad and the Democratic-controlled Senate over expanding Medicaid. Under federal law all states have to decide whether or not they’ll extend enrollment in the joint state and federal healthcare program for the poor. The legislature’s 110-day session is set to end  Friday, but the dispute over Medicaid is one of the issues that’s likely to keep lawmakers from going home.

There’s one issue that will likely help keep state lawmakers from adjourning at the end of the week; that’s healthcare. Thousands of low-income Iowans will be kicked off a healthcare program that expires at the end of the year and there’s disagreement over how to cover them. Republican Governor Terry Branstad is at odds with Democratic-controlled Senate who want to expand Medicaid. The governor doesn’t want to rely on the feds… so he’s introduced his own plan.

Clay Masters / IPR

    

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Crumbling roads and bridges are fueling renewed debate over raising the gas tax in Iowa.  That’s despite polling that shows a majority of Iowans do not support an increase.  Hear the pros and cons and why some who would pay the most are the ones pushing for the increase.

Iowans on Medicaid

Apr 29, 2013
Clay Masters / IPR

Right now, under federal law states have to figure out how to insure the poor. They can either expand the joint federal/state healthcare program for low-income people called Medicaid… or they can get waivers and devise their own plans. Democrats who control the Iowa Senate are at odds with Republican Governor Terry Branstad has introduced his own plan. IPR Statehouse correspondent Clay Masters wanted to get away from the politics and talk to Iowans who receive these services. 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Social media is influencing debate in Iowa's capital.

John Pemble / IPR

The Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate wants to expand Medicaid in the state. Republican Governor Terry Branstad does NOT and has introduced his own plan. Medicaid is the joint federal-state healthcare program for low-income people. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports the Republican-controlled House held a public hearing on the Senate’s expansion bill Tuesday night.

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa sex offender registry includes people within a wide range of offenses, and some lobbyists here at the capitol are asking the question: Should all sex offenders be put under lifetime parole sentences?

John Pemble / IPR

Bills awaiting approval during the 2013 legislative session faced another funnel deadline last week.  Host Clay Masters talks with Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and House Speaker Kraig Paulsen about the proposals still standing.  And, a plan to require schools to test for, and mitigate against, radon exposure stalled in a House subcommittee last week despite overwhelming support in the Iowa Senate.  We hear from Des Moines Senator Matt McCoy, Gail Orcutt a radon-induced lung cancer survivor and Gaylen Howsare from the Iowa Association of School Boards about the possibility of comprom

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.

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.

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.

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.

Juvenile Sentencing

Mar 11, 2013
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.

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.

  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.

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.

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.

Reining in the Regents

Feb 20, 2013
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.

Medicaid Expansion

Feb 18, 2013
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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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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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.

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.

Campaign Finance

Feb 11, 2013
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. 

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.

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.

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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