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John Pemble / IPR

After speaking with all of the Democratic and Libertarian candidates on Iowa's gubernatorial primary ballot, IPR's Clay Masters extended an invitation to Gov. Kim Reynolds to discuss her vision for the state. While Reynolds does not have an opponent in the June 5th GOP primary, the crowded gubernatorial field has criticized her handling of the privatization of Medicaid and funding for mental health care services. Masters spoke with Reynolds about those and other issues. What follows is a transcript of the conversation.

fez zafar
American Iftar Dinner

After the Trump administration broke a White House tradition last year of celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a Des Moines teen is trying to revive and expand the tradition.

Starting with the Clinton administration, the White House has hosted an annual iftar dinner to celebrate Ramadan. It continued through the Bush and Obama presidencies, but Donald Trump did not hold the event when he took office in 2017.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

The stakes are high for Iowa Democrats in the midterms this year. It's been a while since there's been a major win for the party in the swing state. And Tuesday could be one of the first steps. That's when Democratic voters will select a candidate to run against Iowa's Republican Governor, Kim Reynolds.

Dean Borg/IPR

Today – June 1 -- is the date the U.S. Department of Agriculture begins computing federal prevented planting insurance payments to farmers who still have unplanted corn fields.

Most of those unplanted fields, intended for corn, are in North Iowa, in the Mason City-Forest City region.

“Every day, we’ve been rained out,” said Wayne Johnson, who farms in the area. 

He’s completed corn planting, and is still planting soybeans, steering through muddy fields and planting where he can.

Vaping360 via flickr creative commons / http://vaping360.com/cbd-oil-cannabidiol-hemp-oil/

The city of Cedar Rapids is still hoping to land a medical marijuana production center. That’s after state regulators passed over Iowa's second-largest city for a dispensary earlier this year. 

planned parenthood lawyer
Michael Zamora / Des Moines Register

A Polk County judge Friday temporarily blocked Iowa’s “fetal heartbeat” abortion law from being enforced while a legal challenge is underway. The law, which bans most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, was supposed to take effect July 1.

The temporary injunction is the first step in a legal challenge led by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa. They, along with the Emma Goldman Clinic of Iowa City, argue the law is unconstitutional.

Amy Mayer / IPR

Bruce Carney raises cattle, poultry and a few sheep on his 300-acre farm in Maxwell. He no longer grows any grain, but is preparing for new crops of a different kind.

Orange flags dot what was previously a cattle lot, with a ridge (or swale) built around it to manage water flow. The fruit trees Carney will be planting at each of the flags later this year will also help.

Iowa HSEMD/CAP / https://www.weather.gov/dvn/flood2008_Overview

For years Cedar Rapids officials have been lobbying for federal funding to build a flood control system. But one local official says it may be time to again ask taxpayers for their support. 

paul pate
Kate Payne/IPR

Iowa’s voter ID law, which was passed last year and is in a “soft rollout” phase, is facing a lawsuit days before the June 5 primary election. A Latino civil rights group and an ISU student said they are suing Secretary of State Paul Pate because the voter ID law is “burdensome and irrational.”

Pate said in an emailed statement the lawsuit is “baseless and politically motivated,” and his office has asked the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) for feedback on voter education initiatives.

North Charleston/flickr

DNA exonerations for unjustly convicted defendants aren’t happening in Iowa the way they are in other states, and Iowa’s DNA statute has something to do with that.  

That’s what officials at the Iowa Public Defender’s office are arguing, after an unsuccessful attempt this year to update the law to make it more likely that innocent people could be freed.     

Assistant State Public Defender Kurt Swaim says Iowa is one of only a few states in the country with no  DNA exonerations.

Joyce Russell/IPR

In the final debate of the race for the Democratic nomination for governor last night, five candidates made their case for who is best qualified to take on Gov. Kim Reynolds in the general election.  

The debate was held before a live audience at the State Historical Building, sponsored by the Des Moines Register and KCCI-TV.  

Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell has been leading in the polls, financing his campaign in part with  his personal wealth.  

Kate Payne / IPR

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed into a law a tax overhaul she says will put more money in the pockets of virtually every Iowan. Despite concerns from Democratic state lawmakers and some voters, Reynolds says the changes are significant and sustainable.

adam wright
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A proposed wind project in Iowa could make MidAmerican Energy the country’s first utility to generate renewable energy equal to 100 percent of customers’ annual usage. The company announced this goal two years ago.

On Wednesday, MidAmerican Energy President and CEO Adam Wright said last year, just over half of the energy produced by the company came from wind. 

“That’s going to continue to creep up,” Wright said. “By the time we get to 2019, 2020, we should be above 90 percent from wind, and the rest will be coming from the other resources that we have.”

Country View Care Center / http://countryviewcc.com/contact-us/

Black Hawk County officials are considering two offers to take over the county-run nursing home. But some community members don’t want the center to be privatized.

John Pemble / IPR file photo

Political analysts say there’s “reason to be optimistic” this year’s elections could lead to a record-breaking number of women serving in the Iowa Legislature.

There have never been more than 35 women among the state’s 150 lawmakers.

“Part of the reason we hit that ceiling is not having enough women run for office,” said Kelly Winfrey, assistant professor at Iowa State University and coordinator at the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics. “This year, we have more women running, so we would expect to see more women winning.”

Amy Mayer / IPR

Fifty years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture first piloted a program to offer free summer meals to children. The program became a permanent fixture in 1975, and last year, schools, libraries, recreation centers and other groups in Iowa served more than 1.3 million meals and snacks to children under 18 through the Summer Food Service Program.

Wikimedia Commons

Fireworks will go on sale again in Iowa communities soon ahead of the 4th of July holiday, and the state fire marshal’s office expects the number of licensed sellers will increase by as much as 20 percent this year.   

Fire Marshal Dan Wood says many vendors went without inspection last year because of the narrow window between passage of the fireworks bill and the 4th of July holiday.  

“Last year everything got passed basically in mid-May and we had just a few weeks to implement the system, get the plans reviewed, and get out and do inspections,” Wood said. 

Vaping360 via flickr creative commons / http://vaping360.com/cbd-oil-cannabidiol-hemp-oil/

Businesses have until May 31st to apply for a license to manufacture medical marijuana in Iowa. But one market watcher warns the state’s regulations could keep some businesses out of the market.

dave jamison
John Pemble/IPR file

Gov. Kim Reynolds is asking the state to deny unemployment benefits to the former director of a state housing agency she fired over allegations of sexual harassment.

Reynolds fired Iowa Finance Authority Director Dave Jamison on March 24, less than 24 hours after she received a complaint from one of his employees.

Amy Mayer/IPR file

Most of the attention surrounding the June 5 primary election in Iowa has been on Democratic races for governor and three congressional seats. There is also a contested Republican primary for Secretary of Agriculture. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters spoke with IPR Agriculture Reporter Amy Mayer about the race and the job itself. Here’s what to know.

A few highlights:

Ashley Leal parks in front of the Plains, Kansas, Community Library. It’s about to close, but she doesn’t care. She pulls out her blue laptop.

“I’m ... using the Wi-Fi,” Leal says with a laugh.

Her home internet was so slow, she came to the library parking lot. Cars often idle there in the evening while their drivers tap into a plodding, but treasured, link to the internet.

“I’m just thankful that we have somewhere to go,” Leal says.

It’s the only free internet in this small western Kansas town. For many people, it’s the only internet, period. Surprisingly, part of the problem and the solution, for rural areas may lie in Netflix traffic.

Employers can force workers to settle disputes outside of court, the U.S. Supreme Court said this week, which could negatively affect agricultural workers and employees who earn low wages.

Waterville weebly / https://waterville.weebly.com/history-of-waterville-school.html

This week the one and only school in the Northeastern Iowa town of Waterville will close its doors permanently. But while school district consolidation can certainly change a community, it doesn’t have to be the end of it. 

John Pemble / IPR

The Director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics is critiquing Senator Nate Boulton’s initial response after the Des Moines Register reported on his alleged sexual improprieties.    

Boulton withdrew from the race for the Democratic nomination for governor today. 

On Wednesday he apologized to the women who said he had inappropriately touched them at a bar or at parties.   

But his campaign pointed out that he had not harassed women at work.

Thomas Favre-Bulle

Thousands of Iowa high schoolers wrapped up rigorous Advanced Placement exams this month, in the hopes of earning college credit. But some students don’t have access to the in-class instruction that can help them pass their APs and test out of university requirements.

nate boulton
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

UPDATE: 9:30 a.m. Thursday, May 24

Nate Boulton said in a statement Thursday morning he is suspending his campaign for governor. 

"While I depart this campaign for governor with a heavy heart, I remain resolved to the greater cause of creating a future Iowa we all can be proud to call our home," the statement read.  

There are five other Democrats running in the primary.  By Thursday morning, four of them had called for Boulton to drop out of the race, and John Norris said Boulton shouldn't be the Democratic nominee. 

Mike Fritcher via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikefritcherphotography/28345182261/in/photolist-YaC8mq-6Kpc5g-iZdW55-J8XkmS-axeGbk-26QwzgE-JKtZ1s-cZGHow-cZGHvu-P51BXw-Pcu4pu-NhAr6x-NZebRo-BJjbh-4MzPnm-JF4FM-4NigoN-QmtcLo-HzGfZK-FC9jEG-G2sQzj-Fb15fq-FFkzTh-FcS3jf-stNvQ-JYi

Federal officials have selected 62 Iowa communities  for a new Opportunity Zone program. The effort is meant to encourage investment in underserved areas. But Iowa officials say they're still waiting for more details on how the program will actually work.

Douglas Palmer via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/diacritical/4628043944/

An Iowa non-profit organization is trying to pay for the release of all 32 individuals detained in an immigration raid in Mount Pleasant. By getting them out of detention centers, organizers behind the Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project say those arrested will have a much better chance of presenting their case in court.

bill signing
John Pemble / IPR

Iowa’s Executive Council voted Monday to approve the hiring of a Chicago-based conservative law firm to represent the state in a lawsuit challenging the fetal heartbeat abortion law.

Kate Payne / IPR

Early projections from national media outlets suggest Iowa Congressman Rod Blum may be one of the most vulnerable representatives in the country. Four Democrats want to unseat the two-term Republican during this year’s midterms. In this key toss-up race, some voters are saying electability is more important than policy.

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