Statehouse and Politics

Statehouse and Politics
3:32 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Harkin Bids Farewell to the Senate

Sen. Tom Harkin will retire from the U.S. Senate in January after 40 years in Congress.
John Pemble

Retiring Sen. Tom Harkin delivered his Farewell speech on the Senate floor today.  He is retiring after 40 years in Congress.

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Politics Day
2:51 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Implications of the Senate Committee Torture Report

U.S. Senate Committee hearing in 2013
John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV

During his administration, George W. Bush said the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects was humane and legal.

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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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Statehouse and Politics
1:55 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Lawmakers: We'll Follow School Funding Law

Iowa Statehouse
John Pemble/IPR

Lawmakers of both major parties predict that next year schools will get early word about state funding .

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Statehouse and Politics
7:15 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Harkin Reflects on His Legacy

Sen. Tom Harkin will retire from the U.S. Senate in January 2015 after 40 years in Congress.
Photo by John Pemble

Sen. Tom Harkin retires from the U.S. Senate in January. He discusses his congressional legacy with Morning Edition, and gives a hint to his life's next chapter. 

Clay Masters: It’s Morning Edition on Iowa Public Radio. I’m Clay Masters. U.S. Democratic Senator Tom Harkin is retiring. He’s been a member of congress for 40 years—10 years in the House, and 30 in the Senate. Sen. Harkin is with me to discuss his career, and also what’s next.  Hello, Senator.

Sen. Tom Harkin: Good Morning. Good to be with you, Clay.

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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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Tax Credits Scrutinized
11:17 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Google, Facebook Tax Breaks Challenged

Facebook Grand Opening in Altoona
John Pemble/IPR

State assistance to attract Google, Microsoft, and Facebook to Iowa is under scrutiny by a statehouse committee.

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Politics Day
5:16 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Is Government Helping or Hurting Race Relations?

Barack Obama takes the oath of office administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. at the Capitol, January 20, 2009
Wikimedia Commons

There’s no denying the racial tensions flaring in the United States. The question of how to solve them, however, has yet to be answered.

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River to River
12:51 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Between Now and 2016: A Conversation with Political Analyst Charlie Cook

The White House
Wikimedia Commons

Over the course of the next two years, political analyst Charlie Cook says we could see some infighting in Congress.

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Supreme Court Case
3:50 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Juvenile Life Sentence Challenged

Iowa Judicial Building
Photo by John Pemble

Attorneys are keeping an eye on a juvenile sentencing case before the Iowa Supreme Court.  

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Special Election Needed
5:22 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Ernst Resignation Pending in Iowa Senate

U.S. Senate Electee Joni Ernst
John Pemble/IPR

Iowa’s first woman elected to the U.S. Senate will be vacating her Iowa Senate seat. 

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Statehouse and Politics
8:36 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Grassley Delivers Heartfelt Tribute to Harkin

Sen. Grassley (left) and Sen. Harkin check their messages while inspecting flood in Iowa City
Credit Mauro Heck Photography

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley delivered an emotional tribute to his fellow Iowa senator Tom Harkin, who turned 75 today and is retiring at the end of January. 

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Statehouse and Politics
8:01 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Iowans' Health Insurance Threatened

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller
Joyce Russell/IPR

Obamacare critics have gone to court to eliminate federal tax credits in most states.

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Grassley on Judiciary
3:10 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Grassley to Oversee Obama Judgeships

Senator Chuck Grassley
Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says the new Republican majority will carefully vet President Obama’s judicial appointments.

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Statehouse and Politics
5:00 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Union Sues the Prison System

photo by Kate Ter Haar/flickr

The state’s largest public employees union is suing the Iowa prison system over the right to wear anti-Branstad pins at work. 

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Politics Day
6:41 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Politics Day: One Week To Go

Ernst/Braley Campaign Facebook Pages

With the midterm elections less than a week away, the Iowa Senate race looks closer than ever.

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Tuition Freeze Prospects
11:45 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Branstad: Tuition Freeze Possible

Governor Terry Branstad at his weekly news conference, October 27, 2014.
Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad says he has not ruled out funding a tuition freeze for students at Iowa’s Regents universities for next year.

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Hoglot Inspections
4:42 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Critics: Hoglot Inspections Fall Short

Photo by Joyce Russell

Controversial new rules for  large animal confinement operations got another airing  at the statehouse Tuesday.   

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Bullying Forum
3:33 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Student: Use Facebook Safely

Photo by Joyce Russell

A series of town hall meetings addressing the problem of bullying in schools wrapped up  in Marshalltown.  

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Statehouse and Politics
12:27 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Branstad: California is Dead Wrong

Governor Branstad Monday reacted with anger to a federal judge’s ruling affecting egg production in Iowa and five other states.  The judge threw out a lawsuit challenging California’s law on how hens can be housed.  

Iowa leads the U.S. in egg production. California’s law says laying hens must have enough space to fully extend their limbs, and any state like Iowa with different standards can’t sell eggs in California. Branstad says the law violates the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. constitution:

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Statehouse and Politics
6:40 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Branstad Appointees Under Fire

The head of an  Iowa Senate committee  looking into the hiring and firing practices of the Branstad  administration is warning that the governor’s department heads may   face tough prospects for reappointment in the Iowa Senate.    

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Statehouse and Politics
6:24 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

State Workers Fight Back

A two-day hearing got underway at the state capitol with job protections for state workers hanging in the balance.     State employees are fighting back after the Branstad administration reclassified their jobs so they can be fired without cause.   

The Branstad team changed the status of some  350 jobs in a reorganization of state government they say is legal and is saving the taxpayers money.   Administrative law judge Ann Smicek  is hearing the case of four state employees who lost their job protection.

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Statehouse and Politics
4:03 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Vice President Biden Kicks off Nuns on a Bus Tour

Vice President Joe Biden speaking on the steps of the Iowa Capitol during the kick off for the “Nuns on the Bus” tour that will focus on voter registration.
Credit Photo by John Pemble


The social activist group Nuns on the Bus got a boost today for their 36 city tour to encourage voter registration.  They are launching the trip from Des Moines accompanied by Vice-President Joe Biden.  Speaking from the terrace of the State Capitol, Biden calls for the raising of the minimum wage.  “The middle class is in real trouble.  It was devastated by this recession.  It was already losing ground the previous ten years.” says Biden.


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Statehouse and Politics
5:45 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Hillary Clinton Fuels 2016 Speculation at Final Harkin Steak Fry

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former President Bill Clinton and Senator Tom Harkin flip steaks at the final Tom Harkin Steak Fry.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Former Secretary of State and one-time Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton returned to Iowa Sunday for the first time since her 3rd place finish in the Iowa Caucuses in 2008.   She was the featured speaker at retiring  Democratic Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry.  Even Harkin admitted she stole the show. 

Senator Harkin took the stage before some ten thousand activists and said this is a hell of a crowd:

“And to think you all came here just to see me,” Harkin joked with the crowd.  “Who am I kidding? You've had some steak now it’s time for some sizzle.”

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Statehouse and Politics
2:59 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Democrats Challenge Layoff Rules

Democrats in the Iowa Senate failed to stop a new rule at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services that   they say will  chip away at Iowa’s merit system of employment.    The rule would let state agencies lay off some permanent employees ahead of temporary workers in the event of a reduction in force.   

The new rule survived a challenge before the legislature’s administrative rules review committee.   DAS Human Resource Officer Michell Minnehan said sometimes it makes sense to keep temporary workers on.

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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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Statehouse and Politics
3:29 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Hillary Backers Offer Free Trip to Indianola

Photo by Mike Mozart

A group known as Ready for Hillary is offering an all-expense paid trip to Iowa and the 37th annual Tom Harkin Steak Fry later this month.    Bill and Hillary Clinton will be the featured guests, and Hillary Clinton’s backers  want a big turnout.      

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Statehouse and Politics
7:53 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Wahlert Testifies Under Oath

The head of  Iowa Workforce Development Teresa Wahlert  took questions for nearly two hours from the Iowa Senate Oversight Committee.   One senator calls the agency dysfunctional, but Wahlert defends her leadership style.  

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Statehouse and Politics
7:32 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Judges Claim Political Interference

The Iowa Senate Oversight Committee questioned current and former judges  who rule on unemployment benefits for laid-off state workers.    Senators are  looking into allegations that management at Iowa Workforce Development favors  employers over employees in contested cases.   

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Statehouse and Politics
11:09 am
Mon August 25, 2014

More Scrutiny for Unemployment Fraud

Photo by Kay Henderson

State officials who oversee unemployment benefits for laid-off workers  say they are beefing up their fraud investigations, even as unemployment claims have fallen.   Half the investigative staff quit when they took advantage of an early retirement offer.  

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