Ongoing Coverage:

Iowa legislature

Statehouse and Politics
12:21 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Iowa Gets an F for Campaign Disclosure

Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board director Megan Tooker hopes to improve Iowa's laws regarding campaign donation disclosures.
John Pemble/IPR

Iowa has received a failing grade for its laws governing campaign finance reporting for state offices.   

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2015 Legislative Session
3:59 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Lawmakers: Promises to Cities Not Cast in Stone

Iowa Taxpayers Association panelists
Joyce Russell/IPR

At a forum today, Democratic and Republican lawmakers differed sharply on whether the legislature can honor its commitments to local governments.

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Statehouse and Politics
11:01 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Crime Victim Funds Scrutinized

Iowa’s Crime Victim Assistance Program was under scrutiny before a Republican-dominated committee at the statehouse.     The committee’s chairman says he got his questions answered about whether money was being misspent.   

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Politics
3:13 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

When Politics and Religion Meet

The phrase, separation of church and state, "doesn't clarify as much as it obscures," says Dennis Goldford of Drake University
Wyoming_Jackrabbit / flickr

State money is helping to build a new Christian park in Sioux City. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, a Satanic statue will be erected outside a courthouse, next to the Ten Commandments.

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River to River
5:35 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Iowa Ranked Fourth Worst in U.S. Humane Society Puppy Mill Report

The U.S. Humane Society ranked Iowa as fourth worst in the nation for the number of USDA non-compliant large-scale breeders, commonly known as puppy mills
Mehul Gala

Iowa has the second largest number of large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities in the country. This hour, concerns about what are commonly known as puppy mills.

The U.S. Humane Society's 2014 report includes six problem puppy breeders in Iowa. Today, we talk about concerns over large-scale dog breeders with Mary LaHay, President of Iowa Friends of Companion Animals. She says that Iowa has "over 15,000 adult dogs in Iowa puppy mills, and we can do better than this."

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Politics Day
2:36 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Iowa Midterm Races Heating Up

USA.gov

Iowa's June primary election is heating up.  Republican senatorial candidates have been debating, buying ads, and collecting big name endorsements.  But, only one will be campaigning to take incumbent Democrat Tom Harkin's seat.  Host Dean Borg talks with Kathie Obradovich, Political Columnist for the Des Moines Register and Tim Hagle, Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Iowa about Iowa's primary races for Congress and U.S.

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Medical Marijuana
7:43 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Medical Marijuana Bill Advances

Sally Gaer is the mother of a 24 year old diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome. Gaer says medical marijuana would help her daughter.
Credit John Pemble/IPR

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.

    

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DAS Secret Payments
7:02 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Administrators Grilled Over Secret Payments

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.

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Legislative Day
2:48 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Shifting Views on Medical Cannabis in the Iowa Legislature

Sally Gaer is mother of a 24 year old diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome who says medical marijuana would help her daughter. She is standing in the Iowa Capitol Law Library, 3/31/2014
John Pemble

Views on medical marijuana appear to be shifting in the Iowa Senate and among the GOP.

Today on River to River - what this may mean for cannabis in Iowa moving forward.

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Legislative Day
3:26 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Bullying Bill Moving Forward, Funding and Cyber-bullying are Sticking Points

JLM Photography Flickr Creative Commons

Republican Governor Terry Branstad identified legislation to combat bullying as one of his top priorities for this legislative session.  However, a bill has stalled in the Iowa House, bogged down by 17 amendments.  Concerns have arisen in the Republican-controlled chamber over whether schools should be responsible for bullying that occurs online or off school grounds.  In his weekly news conference Monday, Governor Branstad said he plans to talk with Iowa House members about moving the legislation forward.  In the meantime, a bill is advancing in the Democratically-controlled Iowa Senate th

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News Buzz
2:18 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Fireworks, Finding Exo-Planets, and More

Daniel R. Blume http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

On this News Buzz edition of the program, hear about a legislative shouting match, legalizing fireworks, the ACLU lawsuit against the Iowa Secretary of State, a survey of Iowans' thoughts on gay marriage, the Kepler mission, and a push to increase studying abroad.

Legislative shouting match and and other legislative fireworks:

ACLU lawsuit:

Same-sex marriage opinions:

Finding exoplanets:

Studying abroad:

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Education
3:13 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Learning English in Iowa

Vinh Nguyen, English Language Learners Program Coordinator for the Des Moines Public Schools
John Pemble/ Iowa Public Radio

Iowa schools are becoming more diverse, and English Language Learning services are in greater need.  Districts are trying to adapt, and the Iowa legislature has some ideas for addressing the issue.  On this Legislative Day River to River program, guests include Des Moines Senator Janet Petersen, Council Bluffs Representative Mary Ann Hanusa, Legislative Analyst for the Urban Education Network Margaret Buckton, English Language Learners Program Coordinator for the Des Moines Public Schools Vinh Nguyen, and Director of Refugee Services at Lutheran Services in Iowa Nick Wuertz.

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River to River
3:13 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Which Bills Survived Funnel Week?

Iowa's Capital, Feb. 25, 2014.
John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

Last week was "funnel week" at the statehouse.  Now bills that couldn't make it through committee stand little chance of becoming law this session as lawmakers shift their focus to legislation that has more momentum to pass this year.  However many of these issues might be revived in future legislative sessions.

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Statehouse and Politics
8:41 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Iowa Lawmakers Push Forward At Least 100 Bills

Credit John Pemble / IPR

Last week was funnel week at the Iowa Capitol, a time when lawmakers need to get their priority bills out of committee and into either the Iowa House or Senate. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to talk about the week ahead in the legislature.    

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River to River
2:11 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

News Buzz: Funnel Week and Northwood Evacuation

Pictured above is the Worth County Courthouse in Northwood, Iowa. Yesterday, about 300 people where evacuated from Northwood after a fire broke out at the city’s municipal airport.
Jimmy Emerson / jimmywayne

Residents of Northwood are back in their homes after being asked to evacuate yesterday due to an explosion and fire at the city's municipal airport.  Iowa Public Radio statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell discusses which bills in the legislature might become laws in 2014.  The Blank Park Zoo's Amur tiger has died, and what Iowa City is doing about a recent rash of sexual assaults in taxicabs.  Also, an Olympics update from the Des Moines Register's sports columnist Bryce Miller in Sochi.

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Wellmark Profits Questioned
5:12 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Democrats Target Wellmark Reserves

On a strict party-line vote, a committee in the Iowa Senate today addressed  what they say may be  excessive reserves  at the state’s leading health insurance company.   The bill would give the state insurance commissioner authority to order Wellmark to give profits back to consumers depending on the results of an audit of the company’s bottom line.     An earlier audit showed the company’s reserves might be too low.     

    

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iowa Juvenile Home
4:18 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Compromise Sought on Juvenile Home

Iowa's Capitol on a snowy morning
John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

As the legal battle over whether Governor Terry Branstad had the authority to close the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo plays out in court, lawmakers are coming to agreement over what changes are needed to establish a place for the state's female juvenile delinquents.  A bill in the Iowa Senate provides for a state run facility for girls, much like the one in Eldora that serves boys.  But changes to state law are needed to ensure that girls will not again be held indefinitely in isolation cells, without access to education and services.  Host Clay Masters talks with Jerry Foxhoven who served a

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Iowa Statehouse
3:52 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Plans to Provide Affordable Broadband Access to all Iowans

Iowa's Capitol during a snowy winter day, February 7 2014
John Pemble

A large majority of Iowa households have broadband access, but less than half of Iowans have access to speeds at 50 Mbps or greater. This creates disparity among certain demographics and can be exceedingly expensive for the increasing number of people who work online from home.

Two proposals, from Governor Branstad and the Iowa Senate, aim to lower these gaps and provide affordable broadband access to all Iowans. Today on River to River, host Clay Masters sits down with representatives to find out more about rural broadband expansion plans being considered at the Iowa Capitol.

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Iowa Statehouse
3:54 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Iowa Lawmakers Disagree on Flexible Funding for Education

Credit John Pemble / IPR

The state cost per student in Iowa’s K-12 public schools is over six thousand dollars per year - increasing steadily over the past couple decades.

The Iowa legislature is supposed to set the amount of state aid for K-12 school budgets more than a year in advance. Schools say they need the budget in advance so they can plan teacher salaries, but republican law makers are hesitant to plan the budget too far ahead.

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Iowa Statehouse
10:00 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Should Iowa Increase its Minimum Wage?

News Buzz
2:22 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Shaping Our Galaxy: What the Milky Way Really Looks Like

Spiral galaxy M81, which is similar in shape to our Milky Way
Hubble Heritage

Today we bring you four stories. First, the Iowa legislative session kicks off this week. IPR's Joyce Russell brings us inside the statehouse to give us an idea of what will and won't be worked on this year.

An otherwise healthy young boy died from the influenza virus. Patricia Quinlisk talks to host Ben Kieffer about why this flu season is different than previous years and how to limit spread of the virus.

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Statehouse and Politics
2:41 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Condition of the State 2014

Governor Terry Branstad delivering his Condition of the State address in the Iowa House chamber
John Pemble IPR

Governor Terry Branstad outlined legislative and spending priorities in his annual Condition of the State address in the House chamber at the Iowa State Capitol.  He is proposing measures to attract veterans, prevent bullying and expand broadband access in the state.  Host Charity Nebbe talked with Chris Larimer, Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Northern Iowa, IPR's Clay Masters and listeners about what was and was not included in the speech.

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Statehouse and Politics
4:01 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Minimum Wage Increase and Income Tax Cuts hoped for in 2014 Session

The Iowa State Capitol
John Pemble IPR

Host Clay Masters sits down with legislative leaders on opening day of the 2014 session, to discuss priorities.  Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, leads the only democratically-controlled chamber in Iowa's divided state government.  Representative Linda Upmeyer is Majority Leader in the republican-controlled House.  Each said lawmakers are not likely to tackle major issues this session, but also left open the possibility of taking up some big ideas.  We've listed those ideas below.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs

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Transportation
3:03 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Legislative Priorities and Roundabouts

Washington State Deptartment of Transportation

This program includes  hearing from one Iowa community that has incorporated new roundabouts aimed at easing traffic flow, and state lawmakers talk about what projects might be in store for the state, and how they might want to fund those projects. A House Republican and a Senate Democrat find agreement on one aspect of the issue: the gas tax.

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River to River
2:11 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Gronstal and Paulsen Praise Statehouse Compromises

Iowa State Capitol
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Lawmakers from both political parties are calling the 2013 legislative session successful. They were able to find compromise on three big issues: education reform, commercial property tax relief, and expanding health insurance coverage. Host Clay Masters talks about the deals with Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. Then, Statehouse reporters discuss how unusual political compromise is in the current climate.

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Statehouse and Politics
7:55 am
Mon May 20, 2013

Legislative Preview: 05/20/13

Photo by John Pemble

Iowa lawmakers are returning to Des Moines for a third week of overtime. The session was scheduled to wrap up May 3, but legislators continue to negotiate education reform, property taxes, Medicaid expansion, and other key issues.

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River to River
3:09 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Inside The Gold Dome

John Pemble / IPR

Lawmakers at the Statehouse have received their final payments, pages and interns have left for summer, but the legislative session continues into May. It’s legislative day today on River to River.

Host Clay Masters discusses two bills still up for discussion: a state online sales tax bill and a bill requiring DNA testing for certain convictions. Masters also takes a look at the day-to-day in the capitol, by talking with statehouse employees that work alongside Iowa’s representatives.

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Statehouse and Politics
6:58 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Legislative Preview: 05/13/13

Iowa's Capitol
Photo by John Pemble
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River to River
2:17 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Livestock Inspections and Teen Driving

Iowa Statehouse 5-6-13
Credit 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.

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River to River
3:51 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Statehouse Sticking Points and Other Politics

Spring at the Iowa Statehouse
Credit John Pemble / IPR

Friday is the last day lawmakers are scheduled to be at the Iowa Statehouse, but adjournment seems unlikely.  Host Ben Kieffer talks about the issues and the sticking points dragging out the 2013 session with Chris Larimer, University of Northern Iowa and Tim Hagle, University of Iowa.  They also discuss the President's renewed push to close the detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay and the likely Republican candidates for U.S. Senator Tom Harkin's seat.

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