Statehouse

Emily Woodbury

A bill backed by Democrats in the Iowa Senate will make it easier for felons who have completed their sentences to have their voting rights restored. The bill passed a divided Senate subcommittee last week.

As the law stands, people who commit felonies must serve their sentences and pay all court-ordered compensation to victims before they can apply to the governor to restore their voting rights. The policy comes from an executive order signed by Governor Branstad in 2011.

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.

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Terry Branstad ordered the closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo last month. It was after an investigation uncovered some girls were held in isolation cells. Last week Senate Democrats unveiled a bill to reopen the home under a new program. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Statehouse Correspondent about the juvenile home as well as the likelihood of lawmakers raising the state's  gas tax.

John Pemble / IPR

A committee in the Iowa Senate heard from experts on using stun guns, so-called tasers, to subdue difficult inmates. Two prisoners have died in Iowa jails after being tased by officers. A number of other law enforcement agencies have faced lawsuits for their use of stun guns. Iowa Public Radio's Joyce Russell reports

John Pemble / IPR

Democrats in the Iowa Senate plan to introduce a bill to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo.   Governor Branstad ordered the home closed after an  investigation revealed that some girls were being held in long-term isolation.   On Wednesday, a Senate committee heard testimony from former residents and staff, as well as Toledo boosters.  Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell reports:  

John Pemble / IPR

The first of the 2014 legislative session comes to a close today, perhaps overshadowed by Governor Terry Branstad announcing he’s running for reelection. Many state lawmakers have their eye on looming national and state elections. Associated Press Statehouse and Political Reporter Catherine Lucey talks with IPR’s Clay Masters about how Iowa politics are shaping up at outset of 2014.  

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

John Pemble / IPR

Today is the first day of the 2014 Iowa legislative session. It’s an election year, which usually means the time lawmakers meet will be short so people can go run for re-election. IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell talks with Clay Masters about the 2014 legislative session. 

State lawmakers grilled administrators about illegal practices at the Iowa Juvenile  Home in Toledo.    Officials say they have turned things around  since investigators last year found girls confined to isolation cells for months at a time.  But the advocacy group which unveiled the abuse says there’s more work to be done.   

  

 

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.

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.

Photo by John Pemble

As Iowa lawmakers go into overtime, IPR's Sarah McCammon and Joyce Russell discuss what's left to hash out at the statehouse.

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.

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 / IPR

It looks like smooth sailing for a bill at the statehouse to let Iowa’s  job creation experts hand out more tax credits to potential employers.    Officials say the current cap on credits isn’t enough to meet the demand, as more companies are looking to expand.    But not everyone agrees with  a plan to make sure the employers  come through with the jobs they promise.  

John Pemble / IPR

IPR Morning Edition Host Sarah McCammon checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell on legislative news.

New Board of Regents Appointee Draws Controversy

Mar 20, 2013

 

Two new candidates went to the Capitol for job interviews yesterday--  as new appointees to the Board of Regents, which governs Iowa's public Universities. Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports one of those candidates—Robert Cramer—provoked a lot of controversy for his conservative views. 

John Pemble / IPR

Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell joins IPR "Morning Edition" Host Sarah McCammon for a preview of this week's Iowa legislative news.

flickr

  A Democrat-dominated panel in the Iowa Senate has  signed off on a bill to give certain young immigrants a break if they want to attend an Iowa  community college or Regents University.    The bill would mandate  in-state tuition for so-called dreamers, young people who were brought to the United States as children by undocumented parents, and who have attended Iowa primary and secondary schools.   In the meantime,  the Regents  universities say at least some dreamers are already claiming  status as Iowa residents.

John Pemble / IPR

IPR's Sarah McCammon and Joyce Russell discuss the latest news from the Iowa Statehouse.

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.

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.

John Pemble / IPR

Democrats in the Iowa Senate are upping the ante for property tax cuts, but agreement with Republicans still appears elusive.   Both parties say commercial property tax relief is a high priority this year.

There’s consensus that commercial property taxes are disproportionately high.   The latest Democratic plan, again  helps small main street  businesses  more than large out of state corporations.  

Des Moines Democrat Matt McCoy says a business in his own family   is a good example:

Tempers flared at the statehouse over whether Iowa should extend government health care to more low-income families.  Governor Branstad  and some  Democrats are at odds over whether to expand Medicaid as part of the federal health care program known as Obamacare.  But a key  Republican lawmaker says Democrats are politicizing the issue.

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.

John Pemble / IPR

IPR's Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell joins Morning Edition  Host Sarah McCammon for a look at the upcoming week in Iowa legislative politics.

John Pemble / IPR

IPR's Sarah McCammon and Joyce Russell catch up on the week's news from the Iowa General Assembly.

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa lawmakers have completed the first week of the 2013 legislative session. They’ll return for the second week beginning Tuesday. IPR Morning Edition Host Sarah McCammon spoke with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about how the session is shaping up so far.

Pages