Katarina Sostaric


Katarina Sostaric is a Des Moines based reporter for Iowa Public Radio.

She previously covered Eastern Iowa for IPR from Iowa City. Before coming to Iowa, Katarina was a reporter and host at a public radio station in Southeast Alaska, where her work also aired on Alaska’s statewide public radio network.

Katarina worked as a Morning Edition news anchor and general assignment reporter at KBIA in Columbia while she was a student at the Missouri School of Journalism. She has bachelor’s degrees in Convergence Journalism and International Studies from the University of Missouri.

Katarina’s favorite public radio program is Reveal.

children's mental health board
Joyce Russell/IPR file

An 18-member state board tasked with outlining a children’s mental health system for Iowa gave its final plan Thursday to the governor and lawmakers, who will have to work out legislation and funding to implement it.

The plan calls for mental health screenings for all kids, a statewide crisis hotline, and several types of youth mental health services to be rolled out over the next few years.

state education board
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Iowa’s State Board of Education Wednesday ordered further review of the Davenport Community School District as it tries to correct violations of federal special education law that board members called “disgraceful” and “troubling."

An audit completed by the state in April found the district put a disproportionate number of black students in special education and was not taking an individualized approach to education plans, among other issues.

Michael Leland/IPR file

Just two years after gaining major party status for the first time, Iowa Libertarians have lost that status after failing to win at least 2 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s gubernatorial race.

Libertarian candidate Jake Porter received 1.6 percent of the vote.  He was polling at more than 6 percent a few weeks ago.

“And it just dropped down at the very end as people saw the race tightening between [Fred] Hubbell and [Kim] Reynolds,” he said.

cindy axne
John Pemble/IPR

Democrat Cindy Axne joined a record-breaking number of women elected to the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday night with her victory over two-term Republican Congressman David Young in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.

She told supporters in Des Moines she entered the race because she was frustrated with decisions being made in Washington D.C..

guy cook
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

A lawyer for at least one victim of an Iowa youth basketball coach who sexually exploited hundreds of players said Monday he wants a new class-action lawsuit to be a wake-up call for youth sports organizations.

The lawsuit alleges Barnstormers Basketball of Iowa and the overarching Amateur Athletic Union of the United States failed to protect young athletes. Former coach Greg Stephen recently pleaded guilty in federal court to sexually exploiting 400 boys over 12 years.

medpharm grand opening
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Lawmakers, advocates and state officials gathered in Des Moines Thursday to celebrate the grand opening of Iowa’s first medical cannabis manufacturing facility.

MedPharm leaders and elected officials credit Iowans advocating for themselves and their children with convincing the state to accept medical cannabis.

Lucas Nelson, who oversees the MedPharm facility’s development, said many wondered if they’d ever see a medical cannabis program starting up in Iowa.

reynolds and hubbell
John Pemble/IPR file

Ads are flooding screens and mailboxes in Iowa calling the state’s move to privately-managed Medicaid a failure and a health care crisis. Some feature Tucker Cassidy, a quadriplegic man from Waterloo, who says the program forced him to move to a nursing home.

“Three days before Christmas, I get an email from my health care agency saying, ‘We are not going to be able to provide you anymore services. Happy Holidays,’” Cassidy says in a video ad.

pills and money
Images Money / flickr

The six-week period to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, starts this Thursday, and Iowans who buy their own insurance have more choices this year.

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said unlike last year when only one company was offering insurance on the ACA marketplace, this year, there are two choices.

“We see a slight decrease in Medica’s rates for the silver plans and Wellmark is coming in at about where rates were last year,” Ommen said.

janet phipps
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Iowa lawmakers approved new rules Thursday for handling sexual harassment complaints in state government a month after an investigation found a former state agency director harassed employees.

The emergency rules, which were fast-tracked without public input, clarified that the Department of Administrative Services will investigate harassment and discrimination complaints from state employees.

DAS Director Janet Phipps was asked why the agency didn’t follow the typical rulemaking procedure that includes a public comment period.

mike pence
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Vice President Mike Pence stopped in Des Moines Friday to campaign for Republican Congressman David Young, who’s in a tight race with Democratic challenger Cindy Axne to represent southwest Iowa.

The vice president said the fate of the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives might depend on Iowa’s 3rd District.

“This race is going to be critical to whether we’re going to be able to continue to build on the momentum we have in this economy, in national security, and upholding the values that make this country great,” Pence said to a crowd of supporters.

david young and cindy axne
John Pemble/IPR file

A highly competitive congressional district in the southwest corner of Iowa is seen as one of a handful of races that could determine which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives for the next two years. Republican Rep. David Young is campaigning to keep his seat for a third term, and Democrat Cindy Axne is making the case for why she should replace him.

Congressman Young, R-Van Meter, was meeting with supporters at an Ankeny coffee shop one morning earlier this month, talking up Republican tax cuts and regulation rollbacks.

medical marijuana
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

MedPharm, Iowa’s only medical marijuana manufacturer, revealed the state’s first legal cannabis products Wednesday at its facility in Des Moines.

“This is obviously a major, major day for both MedPharm, and I think for patients across the state of Iowa,” said Lucas Nelson, a lead consultant for MedPharm.

He said the company recently completed its first cannabis harvest and formulated the oil into Aliviar branded cannabis products.

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR file photo / Iowa Public Radio

State analysts said Tuesday they are optimistic about Iowa’s economy and the amount of money coming into state coffers this year, but recent tax law changes could complicate things next year.

The three-member Revenue Estimating Conference projected state revenue will increase 4.9 percent this year, or nearly $360 million, compared to the previous fiscal year that ended June 30.

candidates for Iowa governor
John Pemble /IPR

The three major-party candidates for Iowa governor gathered at a forum in Des Moines Sunday to discuss how the state can improve its capacity to care for people with mental health issues.

david young and cindy axne
John Pemble/IPR file

Two candidates running for Congress in Iowa’s competitive 3rd District debated a wide range of topics Thursday night in Johnston.

Republican Congressman David Young of Van Meter has been campaigning on what he says is his record of protecting people with preexisting medical conditions during his two terms in the U.S. House.

Democrat Cindy Axne of West Des Moines doesn’t see it that way.

doctors office
Jennifer Morrow / flickr

The Iowa Farm Bureau released some information Wednesday about new health plans that are meant to be a cheaper alternative to health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

But the Farm Bureau plans, offered in partnership with Wellmark, don’t have to follow federal health insurance laws, which raises questions about consumer protections.

children's mental health board
Joyce Russell/IPR file

The group tasked with developing recommendations for creating a children’s mental health system in Iowa is hosting a series of meetings starting this week to get public input.

The first meeting is Tuesday in LeMars, followed by eight more meetings throughout the state.

Peggy Huppert is executive director of a mental health advocacy group and sits on the Children’s System State Board. She says personal stories are very important for informing the board’s work.

mary mosiman
John Pemble/IPR file

A legal question has become central to this year’s unusually high-profile race for state auditor: does the elected auditor have to be a certified public accountant (CPA) for the auditor’s office to issue financial audits?

There doesn’t seem to be a simple answer.

When she was campaigning at the Iowa State Fair, State Auditor Mary Mosiman, a Republican, said she’s the only CPA running for auditor this year, and that makes a difference.

chuck grassley
John Pemple/IPR file photo

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said Tuesday Senate Judiciary Committee staffers have so far found “no corroboration” of sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“This week, we’re going to do our best to get to the bottom of it,” Grassley said of the hearing he will chair this week to look into Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party.

Grassley was asked if he will cancel the committee vote on Kavanaugh if he finds Ford’s testimony to be believable.

dave jamison
John Pemble/IPR file

An investigation of former Iowa Finance Authority director Dave Jamison released Thursday has found he committed “egregious” acts of sexual harassment against two employees, and two other employees knew about it.

cristhian bahena rivera
Kelsey Kremer / Des Moines Register

The man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder Wednesday at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma.

County Attorney Bart Klaver formally read the charge against 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera in court.

Said defendant on or about July 18, 2018 in Poweshiek County, Iowa, did murder Mollie Tibbets in violation of Iowa Code,” Klaver said.

police car
Tony Webster / Wikimedia Commons

The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case that could determine the fate of pretextual traffic stops in the state.

dick lamb
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which stretches diagonally across the state, and the Iowa Utilities Board.

mike randol
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa’s Medicaid director said Tuesday he doesn’t know what is driving a recent increase in what the state is paying per Medicaid member.

Kim Spading, a member of the council that oversees the Iowa Department of Human Services, asked during a budget presentation why the per-member cost shot up in the past two years.

“This is the opposite of what we would’ve hoped for,” Spading said.

grassley town hall
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Sen. Chuck Grassley finished his annual 99-county tour Monday with a contentious town hall-style meeting in Osceola. Some Iowans pressed Grassley to justify his handling of the Supreme Court confirmation process, while others thanked him for his work during last week’s hearings.

A man from Martensdale asked if Grassley would slow down the confirmation process until allegations that nominee Brett Kavanaugh committed perjury are resolved.

planned parenthood clinic
Sarah Boden/IPR File

Sitting outside the Iowa Capitol, Chelsea Chism-Vargas recalled the moment in 2017 when she found out state lawmakers were trying to cut off her access to Planned Parenthood. 

“I felt my shoulders go back and kind of a gasp like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is my program.’”

For years, Chism-Vargas was getting free birth control pills and annual reproductive health exams at Planned Parenthood through a federally-funded family planning program for low-income and underinsured Iowans.

Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Members of Iowa’s Latino community gathered at the state capitol Thursday to honor the memory of Mollie Tibbetts and to unite against hateful rhetoric.

Vanessa Marcano-Kelly translated Lincon Guerra’s words.

“We are meeting here today in an act of solidarity and moral support to her family and loved ones, asking them to receive our deepest condolences and prayers.”

They released balloons, had a moment of silence, and prayed for Tibbetts, her family and others affected by violence.

child working with tutor
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

After a judge ordered the state of Iowa to change how schools determine if students qualify for special education, educators are grappling with how to follow the judge’s orders. And while some advocates hope this opens up special education to more students, some families are still going to great lengths to get special services for their kids.

chuck grassley
Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said Tuesday President Trump’s announcement of a preliminary trade deal with Mexico and details for $12 billion in farmer aid shows he is “keeping his promises to rural America.”

Grassley said Iowa farmers have been feeling a lot of uncertainty as commodity prices drop and Trump’s trade war continues. But he says the preliminary trade deal with Mexico is encouraging, even though he doesn’t know the details yet.

Grassley was asked if there is any risk to announcing a deal with Mexico before Canada has agreed to anything.

rebecca kiessling
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A Polk County judge heard arguments Friday from a group trying to intervene in a legal challenge over Iowa’s law that bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The Michigan-based group, Save the 1, claims the law’s exceptions for victims of rape and incest are unconstitutional because they discriminate against people conceived in those situations.