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.

timothy's house of hope
Timothy's House of Hope Facebook

A church that serves breakfast to Davenport residents in need is reopening Monday after being shut down by the city for a zoning violation.

Timothy’s House of Hope has been closed for almost a month after it moved to a new location.  The group typically serves 2,000 to 5,000 meals in that amount of time. 

It is reopening because Davenport has agreed to not cite the group for zoning violations while it considers changes to its code. 

firework
pixabay

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution Thursday to put a 90-day ban on the retail sale of fireworks in unincorporated parts of the county.

The vote came two days after Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill into law that legalizes the use and sale of fireworks in Iowa. The bill allows local governments to ban the use of fireworks, but it does not allow for restrictions on sales.

Johnson County Supervisor Mike Carberry says the county attorney approved the moratorium on sales.

naloxone
Tom Wolf / flickr

Hy-Vee announced Wednesday it is now offering over-the-counter naloxone—a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose—in Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin and South Dakota.

Naloxone can be administered as a nasal spray or an injection to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. A state order allows Iowa pharmacies to go through training to be able to sell the drug to a customer without a prescription.

rod blum town hall
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa Republican Representative Rod Blum was drowned out by constituents Tuesday night as he defended his vote to pass the House GOP healthcare bill at a contentious town hall in Cedar Rapids. 

Several audience members asked the 1st District congressman to explain why he voted for the House Republican plan to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Constituents raised concerns about Medicaid funding, the individual health insurance exchange, Planned Parenthood funding and the tax credits meant to help people buy insurance. 

University of Iowa
Vladimir Kulikov / Wikimedia Commons

The Iowa Board of Regents heard from university and student leaders Monday in the first of two meetings to consider additional tuition hikes at the state’s public universities. 

The regents are proposing raising undergraduate tuition by a total of $358 for the next school year. 

At the University of Iowa, the total increase for nonresident students would be $1,764. 

pills
Be.Futureproof/flickr

The Iowa Department of Public Health has received a federal grant to expand treatment for opioid abuse across the state.

About $5.4 million will go to different communities over two years to improve treatment through medication and counseling.

Monica Wilke-Brown is project director for the grant. She says previous opportunities for providers to learn more about treating opioid abuse disorders were concentrated in just a few areas.

abby finkenauer
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A Democratic state representative says she intends to run for Congress in 2018 to represent northeast Iowa.

Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque is hoping to challenge Republican Rep. Rod Blum in the race for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District.

Finkenauer says she wants to focus on policies that support working families and raise wages in Iowa.

traffic camera
Adrian Pingstone / Wikipedia

Cedar Rapids is appealing a judge’s ruling that the Iowa Department of Transportation can order the city to remove some highway speed cameras.

The city has stopped issuing speeding tickets from cameras on I-380 but is requesting a stay of the order to remove those cameras.

Cedar Rapids spokeswoman Maria Johnson says city attorneys felt the need to act immediately.

groundwater sensor
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A helicopter towing a large sensor will fly low over Cedar Rapids this week as part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s effort to map the city’s groundwater supply.

The City of Cedar Rapids can use that information to plan for changes in the Cedar River aquifer and make more informed decisions about water resource development.

Cedar Rapids Utilities Engineering Manager Bruce Jacobs says declining water levels in wells during the 2012 drought led to this effort to better understand the aquifer.

kids share delmar books
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

As Iowa’s metropolitan areas continue to grow, many small towns across the state are losing people and businesses.

In eastern Iowa, a town of about 500 people is making a more creative attempt at reversing that trend by using an oral history project to stimulate development. Delmar has paired up its youngest and oldest residents to explore how the community’s past and shared values may help shape its future.

In downtown Delmar, the storefronts are empty, paint is peeling off the buildings, and a quiet park has replaced the train tracks that used to dominate the town.

traffic camera
Adrian Pingstone / Wikipedia

Cedar Rapids is considering whether to appeal a ruling by an Iowa judge in a lawsuit over highway speed cameras. It affirms the Iowa Department of Transportation’s right to order the removal of some cameras.

Mayor Ron Corbett says attorneys are taking a few days to review the judge's ruling. 

"The Cedar Rapids City Council will probably decide at their next council meeting whether we want to join Des Moines and Muscatine and appeal the case," Corbett says.

Cedar Rapids takes in more revenue from traffic cameras than any other city in the state. 

iowa city
Kris / flickr

Iowa City has been selected to host a meeting of the world’s UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Delegates from all over the world will be in town for a three-day meeting in 2018. Past meetings have been held in Barcelona, Dublin and Heidelberg, Germany.

City of Literature Executive Director John Kenyon says it’s an opportunity to show off Iowa City and highlight what makes it a City of Literature.

jones and mitchell dash cam
YouTube

The City of Cedar Rapids and a police officer are denying all allegations in a lawsuit over a police shooting that left a man paralyzed from the neck down. 

In responses filed last week, the City of Cedar Rapids and police officer Lucas Jones state they are not liable for injuries or damages to Jerime Mitchell and his wife.

Mitchell sued the city and Jones after Jones shot him during a traffic stop last November.

tom miller
Joyce Russell/IPR file

Iowa’s attorney general is joining colleagues from several other states in urging the president and congressional leaders to maintain funding for drug treatment in their effort to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

The 20 attorneys general say changes to certain ACA provisions could eliminate billions of dollars of funding for drug treatment in the midst of an opioid epidemic.

bruce rastetter
Amy Mayer/IPR

Outgoing Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter says the state's public universities need to raise tuition for the upcoming school year.

He says he asked the board office to work with the universities on an additional tuition increase to make up for cuts in state funding. The increase would come on top of a two percent hike previously approved for this fall. 

Rastetter says state budget cuts for the current and next fiscal year make tuition hikes necessary.

johnson county building
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Johnson County officials say they will not sue the state over its preemption of local minimum wage increases.

County Board of Supervisors Chair Janelle Rettig says that decision came after the county attorney looked into options for legal action.

“At this point on minimum wage, we do not see where we have standing to sue. But the other parts of the bill—there may or may not be problems with those that we would want to pursue,” says Rettig. 

wellington heights intersection
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Carletta Knox-Seymour says gun violence came to the forefront in Cedar Rapids in 2015 after a 14-year-old boy shot and killed a 15-year-old. 

"Many facets of the city came together recognizing, at that point, how devastating things must have become in order for this to happen," she says. 

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Sen. Joni Ernst told constituents in Elkader Monday that health care has been the biggest topic at town hall meetings, and Congress needs to work hard on new health care legislation.

She says she is worried the one remaining statewide health insurance carrier on Iowa's individual market will be free to raise its prices or will also pull out of the state.

Ernst says there is a new plan in the works to replace the Affordable Care Act, and she hopes it is ready before open enrollment starts for 2018.

roxanna moritz
Kayla Trail / The Great Scott Times

Four Democratic county auditors say they are considering running for secretary of state in 2018.

They all say they are concerned about a voter ID bill working its way through the legislature and with how Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate has promoted it.

Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz is considering entering the race. 

opioid panel
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Opioid and substance abuse experts called for a community-based, comprehensive solution to the growing problem of opioid dependence in Linn County during a panel discussion Thursday.  

Hospitalizations for opioid abuse more than doubled in Linn County from 2015 to 2016. There were more than 870 hospital admissions in the county for opioid overdose treatment last year.  

Linn County Public Health statistics show the rate of opioid prescription-related deaths in Linn County is slightly higher than the state’s.

rvap
Rape Victim Advocacy Program

Iowa organizations that provide services to victims of sexual violence say they face potential funding cuts at the state and federal levels.

A cut to state funding for victim services is being discussed as a way to help make up for a budget deficit. Federal funding decreases may come as part of proposed budget reductions at the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Executive Director Adam Robinson of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) in Iowa City said these cuts would be catastrophic for victim services. 

wellmark building
Tony Webster / flickr

Iowa’s insurance commissioner is urging customers with individual health insurance policies to stay calm after Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield decided to stop selling individual plans. 

Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said he is disappointed with Wellmark's decision. It affects more than 21,000 Iowans who bought individual Obamacare-compliant plans from Wellmark after the start of 2014. Those customers will have to find a new insurance plan for 2018. 

laura taylor of woofables
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa’s minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour in all counties. Gov. Branstad has signed a bill maintaining that wage level and barring any county or local government from setting a higher minimum.

Five counties have already done that, including Johnson County, which has the highest minimum wage in the state. But the new law does not necessarily mean workers who have recently gotten raises will be taking a pay cut.

Laura Taylor is the owner of Woofables, a gourmet dog treat bakery in Coralville.

johnson county building
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A Johnson County supervisor said he is disappointed in the Legislature’s decision to pass a bill prohibiting local governments from setting their own minimum wages.  

Johnson County has the highest minimum wage in the state at $10.10. It would be set back to $7.25 if Gov. Terry Branstad signs the preemption bill into law.

Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan said he thinks it is a mistake for the state to “usurp local control.”

mother mosque circle
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A few hundred people gathered at North America’s longest-standing mosque in Cedar Rapids Sunday to show support for the Muslim community. 

Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Native American and atheist leaders spoke to a crowd at the Mother Mosque of America about equality, acceptance and love.

The interfaith rally was held to counteract recent hate crimes and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Mother Mosque Imam Taha Tawil thanked the participants for supporting tolerance and religious freedom.

University of Iowa College of Public Health

A new report from the State Health Registry of Iowa shows the rate of new liver cancer cases has tripled in the state since the 1970s.

According to the "Cancer in Iowa" report released Wednesday, new cases of liver cancer were detected in six of 100,000 Iowans in the period from 2010 to 2014. 

rod blum
Rod Blum for Congress

Iowa Republican Representative Rod Blum said Tuesday he will not support the House GOP’s health care plan in its current form.

The 1st District congressman tweeted that the American Health Care Act “doesn’t do enough to lower premiums for hardworking Americans.”

The repeal and replacement of much of Obamacare is supposed to get a vote on the House floor on Thursday. Dozens of Republican House members oppose the bill or have expressed major concerns.

President Trump met with House Republicans Tuesday to urge them to pass the health care bill.

cessna plane
DLR German Aerospace Center

Three Iowa airports could lose commercial air service under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.

Airports in Burlington, Fort Dodge and Mason City depend on federal subsidies to provide regular flights to major cities in the Midwest. Trump has proposed eliminating the Essential Air Service program, which makes those flights possible.

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst fielded several questions about health care today at a town hall-style meeting in Cedar Rapids.

Several questioners among the 1,000 or so people in the auditorium at Coe College pushed her to state her position on the House GOP health care plan.

"I can't say today whether I support it or don't support it," Ernst said. 

Ernst added the plan does not solve all health care issues.

cedar river
Braden Kopf / Vimeo

An effort to improve water quality and decrease flood risks on the Cedar River will “ramp up” this year.

Cedar Rapids Utilities Director Steve Hershner made the announcement Tuesday at a water quality discussion.

The quality of Cedar Rapids' drinking water is influenced by nutrient levels in the Cedar River.

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