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.

marijuana plants
Katarina Sostaric / IPR file

A proposal that would allow Iowa dispensaries to sell more potent medical marijuana products to registered patients advanced Monday in the Iowa Senate after it passed the House last week.

It removes the 3 percent limit on THC (the chemical that gets people high) in individual products and replaces it by allowing a patient to purchase up to 25 grams of THC in a 90-day period.

Lucas Nelson is general manager at MedPharm, one of Iowa’s two medical cannabis manufacturers.

jerry foxhoven
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

State officials responded Monday to the recently announced departure of one of the two private companies that manage the government-run health insurance program for poor and disabled Iowans.

Democrats in the Iowa Legislature said the departure of UnitedHealthcare, which manages the care of about 425,000 Iowans, shows privatized management of Medicaid does not work. It’s the second such company to leave the state since privatization began in 2016.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Bills exploring medical marijuana and the definition of an "unborn person" are up for discussion at the Iowa Statehouse. 

During this episode of River to River, we take a look at a Senate bill that could further define criminal charges for a nonconsensual termination of pregnancy and discuss a House bill that could expand the program for medical cannabis in the state. 

John Pemble/IPR

Last week, the Iowa House voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights to Iowans with felony convictions. It’s the first step in a long process. Morning Edition host Clay Masters talks with state government reporter Katarina Sostaric about this issue. They also discuss Governor Reynolds' birth control plan and the "personhood" bill in the Senate.

bobby kaufmann
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The Iowa House of Representatives voted Thursday in favor of a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights to Iowans with felony convictions after they complete their sentence.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds made this a priority and has been advocating for the constitutional amendment. The resolution passed the house with a 95-2 vote.

Iowa Capitol
John Pemble / IPR file

The Iowa Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would allow women 18 and older to obtain some forms of birth control directly from a pharmacist without first seeing a doctor.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds made this a priority and submitted the original proposal to lawmakers.

senator jake chapman
John Pemble / IPR

This story was updated at 11:55 a.m., Wednesday, March 27, 2019.

Iowa senators voted Tuesday to ban traffic cameras in the state for the third year in a row. But the proposal is not likely to gain enough support in the House of Representatives, where lawmakers have considered regulating traffic cameras.

Those who support banning traffic cameras say they violate due process rights and are a money-making scheme for local governments.

police car
Diego Parra / Pixabay

The ACLU of Iowa announced Monday it is challenging an Iowa Public Information Board ruling that says body camera footage and other records from a police shooting can be kept confidential forever.

The appeal was filed in Polk County District Court on behalf of Adam Klein, an attorney for the family of Autumn Steele.

A Burlington police officer shot and killed Steele in 2015, and a battle over records from the case continued for four years.

John Pemble/IPR file

A bill that creates the framework for a children’s mental health system in Iowa passed the Iowa House of Representatives Thursday.

It directs the state’s mental health regions, which administer the adult mental health system, to develop and provide services for children. Gov. Kim Reynolds proposed the bill after receiving recommendations from an advisory board.

Rep. Joel Fry, R-Osceola, said it seeks to provide equal access to services across the state.

jason schultz
John Pemble / IPR

Republicans in the Iowa Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would require some Medicaid recipients to report they are working or volunteering at least 20 hours a week in order to receive the government-funded health benefits.

Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, said it will give people a “better chance at life.”

“If there’s nothing holding you back except your own decision not to move forward, we’re going to bump you forward,” Schultz said.

flood in hornick
Katie Peikes / IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday “catastrophic” floodwaters in southwest Iowa have devastated communities and farms in recent days, and there is more to come.

“It’s hard to really describe the devastation that we witnessed,” Reynolds said. “It looked like an ocean. I saw the top of grain bins, we saw buildings flooding…it’s just unbelievable. And that’s people’s lives.”

Max Pixel

Mary Neubauer and her husband tried to find their way through Iowa's mental health system for years, seeking help and support for their son Sergei, who died by suicide at the age of 18 in 2017. 

"Truly a labyrinth." That's how Neubauer, now an advocate, describes mental health services in Iowa.

iowa capitol
John Pemble / IPR

Republican lawmakers in the Iowa House have advanced a proposal to address concerns they heard from voters about property taxes. IPR Morning Edition Host Clay Masters speaks with IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric about that chamber's bill as well as why U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was at the Statehouse last week, and what the "Ag Gag 2.0" bill that Gov. Kim Reynolds signed last week would do for undercover farm investigations. 

University of Iowa
Vladimir Kulikov / Wikimedia Commons

This story was last updated at 12:27 p.m., Wednesday, March 27, 2019. 

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law Wednesday that she says protects free speech at public universities and community colleges in Iowa. 

"Our public universities and community colleges should always be places where ideas can be debated, built upon, and creative thoughts flourish without limits," Reynolds said in an emailed statement.

reynolds signs bill
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law Thursday that critics are calling “Ag Gag 2.0” just two months after a federal judge struck down a similar law as unconstitutional.

The law creates a specific trespass crime for a person who lies to get into an agricultural facility with the intent to cause financial or physical damage. It would allow the prosecution of people who go undercover to investigate livestock operations, slaughterhouses and puppy mills.

iowa capitol
John Pemble / IPR

An Iowa House panel advanced a proposal Wednesday that is meant to address concerns Republican leaders said they heard from voters about property taxes.

The bill caps property tax revenue growth at 2 percent each year.

felon voting application
John Pemble / IPR

Iowans with felony convictions will receive invitations from Gov. Kim Reynolds to apply to get their voting rights restored upon release from prison or completion of probation or parole in a simplified process.

Reynolds announced Tuesday her office is streamlining and expediting the process for ex-felons to apply to get their voting rights restored as she continues to advocate for a constitutional amendment to automatically restore those rights.

John Pemble/IPR

The Iowa Legislature is in it's ninth week at the Statehouse, with last Friday marking the first deadline of the session. During this River to River episode, Clay Masters talks with reporters about what bills are still being considered and what bills didn't make the cut after last week's "funnel." 

Guests include: 

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR

 

A wide-ranging elections bill that would block public university students from voting early on campus among other changes advanced in the Iowa senate last week. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters spoke with IPR’s state government reporter Katarina Sostaric about this bill and others working their way through the legislature following a deadline last week.

 

voting sign
John Pemble / IPR file photo

Republican senators advanced a wide-ranging elections bill Thursday ahead of a key statehouse deadline for legislation to remain eligible in this session.

It would block students at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa from voting early on campus. That’s one result of a proposed overall ban on hosting satellite voting stations in state-owned buildings, which would also include the Iowa Veterans Home.

John Pemble/IPR

A bill that would reinstate the death penalty for someone who kidnaps, rapes and murders a child advanced out of an Iowa Senate committee Thursday with an 8-7 vote.

Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, said it is meant to address what he calls a “perverse incentive to kill children.”

MedPharm's Aliviar branded medical cannabis products were on display at the MedPharm manufacturing facility in Des Moines Wednesday, October 17, 2018.
Katarina Sostaric / IPR file

A bill that would expand Iowa's medical marijuana program is being fast-tracked by some House members ahead of a key statehouse deadline.

Rep. Jarad Klein, R-Keota, said the bill is a good step in the right direction, and comes in response to issues brought up with the current law.

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR file photo

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration is refusing to release information about how many harassment complaints are being investigated in state agencies. The state lawmaker seeking the information filed a complaint Wednesday with the Iowa Public Information Board.

jon jacobsen
John Pemble / IPR

Lawmakers in the Iowa House advanced a bill Tuesday that would ensure absentee ballots that get mailed on time are counted in a consistent way.

It is a bipartisan effort to avoid repeating what happened in a recent northeast Iowa contested election that was separated by nine votes.

solar panels
Warren McKenna / Farmers Electric Coop

Utility companies would be allowed to charge an additional fee to customers who use solar panels to generate electricity under a bill that advanced out of an Iowa House committee Monday.

Rep. Gary Mohr, R-Bettendorf, said customers who don’t have solar panels are subsidizing utility infrastructure for Iowans with solar panels. 

julian garrett
John Pemble/IPR

All Iowa businesses would be required to use the federal E-Verify program to check if their employees are legally eligible to work in the United States under a bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. The state could suspend or revoke the business license of employers that knowingly hire undocumented immigrants.

John Pemble/Iowa Public Radio

 

Iowa lawmakers are looking to end the statute of limitations on cases of child sex abuse in Iowa.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and Iowa Public Radio Statehouse Reporter Katarina Sostaric discuss two senate bills aimed at eliminating this statute of limitations.They also explore legislation aimed at increasing access to birth control without a visit to the doctor.

 

John Pemble / IPR

Many of Republican Governor Kim Reynolds’ priorities have passed early hurdles in the legislative process, and a deadline for lawmakers to move bills forward is Friday. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talks with IPR State Government Reporter Katarina Sostaric about the week ahead at the legislature.

gavel
Wikimedia Commons

A bill that would remove the time limit on filing criminal charges in child sex abuse cases advanced in the Iowa Senate Thursday, but its future at the Statehouse is unclear.

Current state law says criminal charges must be filed within 10 years after the victim turns 18.

children's mental health subcommitee
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Lawmakers in the Iowa Senate advanced a plan Wednesday to start a children’s mental health system in the state.

Stakeholders said they support starting the system, but they have concerns about the need for sustainable funding, the bill’s lack of deadlines, and what some say is too narrow of a focus on children diagnosed with a severe emotional disturbance.

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