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.

John Pemble / IPR file

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.

brad zaun
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

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.

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 file

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.”