Iowa legislature

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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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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:

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.

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.

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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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.

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.     

    

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

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.

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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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.

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.

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo by John Pemble
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

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.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell joins Sarah McCammon for an update on legislative news.

Legislative Preview: 04/22/13

Apr 22, 2013
John Pemble

IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell joins 'Morning Edition' Host Sarah McCammon for a weekly conversation about legislative news.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

IPR "Morning Edition" Host Sarah McCammon and Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell look ahead to the upcoming week in the Iowa Capitol.

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

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

It's spring, at the Iowa Statehouse and lawmakers are turning attention to one of the big priorities of the session - reforming commercial property taxes.  Host Joyce Russell runs down the details of the competing plans, and talks with businesspeople, city leaders and taxpayers' rights representatives about how the differing bills would impact them, their businesses and their constituents.

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.

As Iowans are  filing their state income tax returns, there’s a controversy at the statehouse over one of the questions on the tax form.       The question  aims to locate working Iowans who may be eligible for subsidized health insurance for their children.   Some  Republicans in the Iowa House say that  goes beyond what the government needs to know when you file your taxes.

Juvenile Sentencing

Mar 11, 2013
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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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