Katarina Sostaric

State Government Reporter

Katarina Sostaric is the State Government 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.

iowa house of representatives
John Pemble/IPR

Rep. Lisa Heddens, D-Ames, is leaving the Iowa Legislature during her ninth term to serve on the Story County Board of Supervisors.

Heddens said she has been interested in the position for “quite some time,” and said several people encouraged her to apply for the supervisor vacancy.

newton prison painting
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

On a rainy May morning, Joshua Goemaat was painting the ceiling of a small building just down a hill from the Newton Correctional Release Center, where he’s incarcerated. The building will serve as classroom and storage space where Goemaat will work as one of the first Iowa inmates to build houses for families across the state.

joe biden
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Iowa Tuesday to run against President Trump, who was also in the state for a fundraiser.

At his first campaign stop of the day in Ottumwa, Biden called President Trump an “existential threat” to America and the country’s core values. He criticized Trump for policies he said are hurting farmers.

John Pemble /IPR

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday she is concerned about President Trump’s threat to impose new tariffs on all imports from Mexico and will discuss that when he visits Iowa next week.

Trump said all goods coming into the United States from Mexico will be hit with new tariffs next week unless Mexico stops the flow of migrants crossing the southern border.

polk county court
Stephen Matthew Milligan / Wikimedia Commons

Updated Wednesday, May 29, 4:39 p.m.

A Polk County judge issued an order Wednesday temporarily blocking a new Iowa law from taking effect that bans Planned Parenthood from participating in two federally-funded sex education programs.

governor reynolds
John Pemble/IPR file

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law Thursday that makes some changes to how cities and counties raise property taxes.

tom miller
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds vetoed a measure Wednesday that would have limited the Democratic attorney general’s authority to join out-of-state lawsuits. Instead, the two officials had a private meeting and reached an agreement that will have a similar effect.

abortion law protest
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Abortion rights supporters rallied at the Iowa Capitol Tuesday as part of a nationwide protest against new abortion restrictions in other states.

kim reynolds
John Pemble / IPR

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds now controls a majority of the 17-member panel that nominates potential Iowa Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges. She signed controversial judicial selection changes into law Wednesday.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

State Auditor Rob Sand announced Thursday he will investigate prescription drug industry middlemen to find out if they are overcharging Iowa’s Medicaid program.

The Iowa House of Representatives in April unanimously approved a provision directing the Iowa Department of Human Services to look into pharmacy benefit managers’ billing practices in Iowa Medicaid. But the Senate rejected that proposal before lawmakers left the statehouse for the year.

iowa capitol
John Pemble / IPR

This post was updated Friday, May 3, 2019 at 5:35 p.m.   

Iowa lawmakers wrapped up the 2019 legislative session Saturday afternoon. It was the third consecutive year with Republicans controlling the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the governor's office.

Read more to catch up on what high-profile legislation passed, what didn't, and what is still waiting for Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds' signature. 

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR

This post was updated Friday, May 3, 2019, at 5:32 p.m.

In the final days of the legislative session, Republicans at the Iowa Capitol moved to block Planned Parenthood from getting government grants to provide sex education programs in the state.

“Sexual health education is what gives young people the skills to have the healthiest lives they can have,” said Planned Parenthood Executive State Director Erin Davison-Rippey. “And by defunding Planned Parenthood, you’re removing one of the most significant providers of sex education from the system.”

marijuana plants
Katarina Sostaric / IPR file

In the final hours of the legislative session Saturday, the Iowa Senate sent a bill to the governor that would expand the state’s medical marijuana program.

The bill allows for more potent medical marijuana products at the state’s five dispensaries. It would remove the 3 percent cap on THC—the chemical that makes people feel high—and replace it with a per-person limit of 25 grams in 90 days.

One exception to the limit is a waiver available to terminally ill people with a life expectancy of less than one year.

steven holt
John Pemble / IPR

Republicans at the Iowa Capitol approved a plan Saturday, the final day of the legislative session, to give the governor more power in the process of selecting Iowa Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges.

Katarina Sostaric / IPR

This post was updated Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 2:48 p.m.

Republicans at the Iowa Capitol voted Friday and Saturday to ban publicly-funded health insurance, including Medicaid, from covering transition-related surgery for transgender Iowans.

This change to the Iowa Civil Rights Act was embedded in a budget bill on one of the last days of Iowa’s legislative session.

dustin hite
John Pemble / IPR

Republican lawmakers at the Iowa Capitol sent a bill to the governor early Thursday they say will make local property taxes more transparent, despite concerns raised by Democrats that this would hurt the state’s public pension fund and trample on local control.

The bill requires cities and counties to inform residents that when property values increase overall, local officials could lower the property tax rate if they planned to spend the same amount of money on public services as the previous year.

tom miller
Joyce Russell/IPR file

This post was updated Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 6:10 p.m. 

Republicans in the Iowa Legislature voted this week to limit the Democratic attorney general’s authority to pursue out-of-state lawsuits because he joined legal challenges of Trump administration policies.

andy mckean
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The longest-serving Republican in the Iowa Legislature announced Tuesday he is switching to the Democratic Party, citing increasing discomfort with Republicans’ stance on many high-profile issues and his unwillingness to support President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR file

Updated Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 10:50 a.m.

Iowans 21 and over could soon legally place bets on professional and college sports under a bill that lawmakers sent to the governor Monday evening.

Iowa capitol
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa Senate has sent a bill to the house that would legalize sports betting in the state. Morning Edition host Clay Masters talks with IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric about the bill as well as other issues like Republican lawmakers trying to restrict Attorney General Tom Miller's ability to join national lawsuits.

O. Kay Henderson / Radio Iowa

A proposal meant to limit property tax growth advanced at the Iowa Capitol Thursday with the support of Republicans on a Senate committee.

The board that oversees Iowa’s public universities will not consider new tuition rates at its meeting scheduled for this week because lawmakers at the Iowa Capitol are still working out their differences on state education funding.

governor reynolds
John Pemble / IPR

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds established a flood recovery advisory board Monday and called on lawmakers to set aside state funding to address catastrophic flooding that hit southwest Iowa over a month ago.

“Sometimes it can take months to years for FEMA and other federal funding to be made available to Iowans impacted by the flood,” Reynolds said. “And we know that these communities and Iowans can’t afford to wait.”

Federal disaster aid for Iowa and other Midwest states is held up in the U.S. Senate as part of a larger relief package for hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.

electronic cigarette
haiberliu / Pixabay

Three senators advanced a bill Wednesday that would raise Iowa’s minimum age for buying tobacco products and nicotine pods from 18 to 21.

Senate President Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, said his proposal is part of a national trend of states taking that step.

kim reynolds
John Pemble / IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday she will meet with Iowa lawmakers this week to discuss additional state funding that might be needed for flood recovery efforts. 

“We’re going to act while they’re here [in Des Moines],” Reynolds said. “Of course we’ll do that while they’re still in session.”

The Iowa legislative session is scheduled to end May 3, but that can easily change.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposed constitutional amendment to restore felon voting rights upon completion of their sentences appears dead for the session.  IPR's Clay Masters spoke with Iowa Public Radio state government reporter Katarina Sostaric about this and other issues at the Statehouse.

John Pemble / IPR

The Republican governor’s proposed constitutional amendment to automatically restore felon voting rights will not win approval from the full Iowa Legislature this year after Republicans on a Senate committee declined to consider it Thursday ahead of a Statehouse deadline.

voting sign
John Pemble / IPR file photo

An Iowa Senate committee voted Wednesday to add numerous election law changes to a narrow House proposal that would ensure mail-in ballots are counted in a consistent manner across the state.

governor reynolds
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday she is confident Iowa will have two insurance companies ready to take on 425,000 poor and disabled Iowans after the state’s biggest Medicaid management company leaves.

Reynolds said she has “every indication” that Amerigroup will stay in the state and that Iowa Total Care will start up July 1 as planned. Contracts for the next fiscal year have not yet been signed. 

“They’re committed to Iowa. They’re committed to continuing to provide the services, and we’re going to get it done,” Reynolds said.

senator dan dawson
John Pemble / IPR

A Senate panel Tuesday advanced a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights to Iowans with felony convictions, but some Republican lawmakers are expressing doubts about its future.

The proposal—a priority of Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds—overwhelmingly passed the Iowa House last week. It has to get through a Senate committee by the end of this week to remain eligible this year.

Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs said he doesn’t know if that will happen because Republicans want to add restrictions.