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John Pemble


John Pemble is a reporter for Iowa Public Radio and host of the Iowa legislative podcast Under the Golden Dome.

He produces many live events for News and Talk and records music performances for IPR Classical and Studio One. During the leadup to the 2020 Iowa caucuses, John was a co-producer for the podcast Caucus Land.

John began his career at Iowa Public Radio in 1989 as a program host for jazz, classical, and contemporary instrumental music programs. For a decade he was also an adjunct professor for Iowa Central Community College’s broadcasting department. He transferred to the news department in 2008. You can contact John at jpemble@iowapublicradio.org.

  • Presidential candidates have been rewarded in the Iowa caucuses for spending a lot of time traveling the state and meeting with voters. That strategy doesn’t seem to be working for those running against former President Donald Trump in 2024.
  • Everything seemed to go well during the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses — until it came time for results. Welcome back to Caucus Land.
  • Caucus Land returns for a limited-run second season. Our first of four episodes debuts Nov. 15. Here's a preview of Caucus Land ‘24.
  • A bill removing work restrictions for teenagers is revised. Democrats still oppose it but say this newly amended version is much better than what was proposed earlier in the session. All the budgets are now passed but many have status quo or small increases, including the education budget. It also has a hiring freeze for university diversity, equity and inclusion departments. And the caucuses are coming in less than a year. A bill would prohibit some proposed changes to prevent any kind of mail in ballot.
  • Among the policy bills advancing this year include one adding a 40% tax to glass or metal pipes supporters say are used to smoke dangerous drugs. There is also a bill making it easier for gas pipelines to be built from farms with anaerobic digesters converting manure to a form of natural gas. And the governor’s education bill about gender identity is now much bigger after the House of Representatives adds an amendment containing sections from many non-controversial bills that have already passed.
  • A bill requiring public schools to print on Student ID cards contact information for the crisis service Your Life Iowa passes out of the House, and is also considered by a Senate committee. The sale of raw milk passes in the Senate and has advanced from a House committee. The Senate’s version of a bill requiring more paperwork for eligibility for food assistance and Medicaid also passes a House committee. This is from a week where most bills need to pass from both a Senate and House committee to remain viable for this legislative session.
  • In the 11th week of this session a bill that requires more landowners to agree to carbon pipeline construction on their property advances. It would permit the Iowa Utilities Board to allow eminent domain only if pipeline companies first reach voluntary deals for 90% of the land along the pipeline route. Also penalties increase for Fentanyl, distracted driving, and assaulting a pregnant woman. The Senate advances the governor’s large public education proposal prohibiting elementary schools from discussing gender identity and removing books in K-12 schools not deemed “age-appropriate.”
  • The majority of the legislation during every session is bipartisan and non-controversial. Bills about seizure training, robotic extracurricular activities in the schools and non-prescription birth control pass with ease. But there are the more contentious bills that draw strong responses, including what is known as the bathroom bill, which passes in the House and Senate.
  • A bill prevents Iowa medical-assisted gender transition for minors including the use of hormones or drugs even with parental consent. Senate Republicans say it’s a matter of public health and children are vulnerable and confused. But opponents say this violates Iowa’s constitution by targeting the small population of transgender children and youth. They are joined by a handful of Republican representatives that say this proposal will eliminate a parent’s choice in helping their children. The Senate and House pass the proposal and it is eligible to be signed into law by the governor
  • A bill advances stating a student must use the public school bathroom that conforms to their gender assigned at birth. Subcommittees also listen to testimony about a proposal prohibiting a healthcare professional from performing or referring a patient that is a minor for gender-affirming surgeries or drugs. And there is a bill from the governor that would make certain subjects illegal to discuss in K - 6 grade public schools and require parental consent for all students to view some books in school libraries.