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.

Jo Naylor

Updated: 9:00 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 28

Senators scaled back a plan Wednesday afternoon to eliminate several state requirements for school districts. The Senate Education Committee removed a section of the bill that would strike the requirement for each school district to have a nurse and a teacher librarian. 

The rest of the bill, which deals with topics including student health screenings, environmentally-preferable cleaning products, and others, advanced out of committee with Republicans voting in favor.  

mariannette miller-meeks
John Pemble/IPR

A three-member Senate panel voted unanimously Tuesday to advance Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal that aims to expand access to birth control in Iowa.

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR

Iowa lawmakers are considering three bills that would change eligibility requirements for public assistance programs like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. 

Jack Reardon, who grew up in Des Moines in a single parent household says that there isn't a need to increase oversight for the program, but that there is a need to expand programs like SNAP. 

John Pemble / IPR file

There are a number of bills moving forward that would limit or eliminate abortions in Iowa. That’s despite recent court rulings. Last week, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds declined to appeal a court ruling over abortion but says she will continue fighting for abortion opponents. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checked in with IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric to talk about abortion legislation and preview the week ahead at the capitol.

christopher mcdonald
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds Wednesday appointed Court of Appeals Judge Christopher McDonald to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court.

Reynolds said she is proud to appoint McDonald to the court.

“On the bench, Judge McDonald has earned a reputation as a brilliant and thoughtful jurist, a hard worker and a good colleague,” Reynolds said.

hibo jama
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A Senate panel advanced a proposal Monday to make female genital cutting a crime in Iowa.

The bill would also make it a felony to transport a minor out of the state for the procedure, which is performed in Africa and some parts of the Middle East and Asia. A House panel advanced the proposal last week.

Everyone at Monday’s meeting agreed female genital cutting should be stopped, but advocates are divided on whether it should be criminalized.

bill signing
John Pemble/IPR file

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Monday she will not appeal a decision by a Polk County judge that struck down the fetal heartbeat abortion law and declared it unconstitutional.

Julian Garrett
John Pemble / IPR

Senate Republicans advanced a proposal out of a committee Monday that would change the make-up of the judicial nominating commissions that recommend potential judges to the governor.

The bill would allow the governor and statehouse leaders from the same political party to appoint three-fourths of the members of each commission, and statehouse leaders from the other party would appoint the remaining fourth.

John Pemble / IPR file

UPDATE: Gov. Reynolds office Monday announced she would sign education bills Tuesday morning at the Statehouse.  Those bills were among the topics discussed earlier Monday on IPR's Morning Edition.  That conversation between Clay Masters and State Government Reporter Katarina Sostaric is below.

The Iowa legislature has sent an education spending bill to the governor. There’s been a lot of talk from lawmakers about changing public assistance and last week we had a sudden resignation of a Democratic state senator.

senate subcommittee meeting
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Republican senators advanced three proposals and tabled one this week that would change eligibility requirements for public assistance programs.

Sen. Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig) chaired the three-member subcommittee meetings on each of the bills. The Opportunity Solutions Project, which is associated with a conservative think tank based in Florida, submitted the proposals.

“A lot of these bills are focused on the public general perception that there is a large fraud problem,” Schultz said. “But I’ve looked into it—I’m not sure there is.”

jeff  danielson
John Pemble / IPR

Updated Monday, Feb. 18:

Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, set a special election Monday to replace former Democratic Sen. Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls for March 19. 

Senate District 30 covers Cedar Falls, Hudson and part of Waterloo. It's up to party conventions to nominate their candidates for the seat. Democrats are slated to choose a candidate Saturday, and Republicans will do that on Monday. 

Four Democrats have already said they will run. Former Rep. Walt Rogers, a Republican, is also reportedly considering a run.  

reynolds
John Pemble/IPR file photo

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal to allow Iowans to get some forms of birth control directly from a pharmacist without going to a doctor first has an uncertain future at the statehouse.

The bill would allow specially trained pharmacists to dispense up to a one-year supply of some forms of birth control, and would require insurance to cover it.

Rep. Shannon Lundgren (R-Peosta) chairs the House Human Resources Committee. She said Wednesday Republicans on the committee are discussing the proposal, a priority of the governor.

Jimmy Emerson/flickr

The Iowa House of Representatives passed a K-12 education package Monday evening that increases funding to public schools by nearly $90 million for the school year starting in the fall.

The first measure House lawmakers considered offered a 2.06 percent increase to per-student funding.

Woodleywonderworks/Flickr

 

 

The Governor has made K-12 education a priority, and Iowa lawmakers are at work crafting proposals at the Statehouse.

During this hour of River to River, hosts Ben Kieffer and Katarina Sostaric are joined by Democratic ranking member of the House Education Committee Rep. Ras Smith, and Republican chair of the Education Appropriations Subcommittee Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink. They talk about proposed changes to K-12 education base funding as brought forward by the Iowa House and Senate.

 

John Pemble / IPR File Photo

State lawmakers are expected to vote on K-12 public education funding this week. It’s less than Governor Kim Reynolds requested, but it’s more than the last couple of years. This bill gives a 2.06 percent increase in base funding, or about $79 million. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checked in with IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric. Here’s what to know about education funding and other issues going on at the capitol.

A group of college students traveled to the Iowa Capitol Thursday to voice support for a proposal that aims to expand free speech rights on public college campuses.

“As conservatives, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we expected there to be a bias when we went to a public university,” said Jacob Minock, president of the Iowa State University College Republicans. “And we are okay with that. But we are not okay with being silenced. And that is why we are here.”

jake chapman
John Pemble/IPR

Republican senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would amend the Iowa Constitution to say it does not protect abortion rights.

school bus
Cannon Air Force Base

A Senate panel advanced a deal Tuesday by Republican statehouse leaders to increase funding for Iowa’s K-12 public schools for the 2019-2020 school year.

It would provide a 2.06 percent increase in base funding, which is an additional $78.6 million. A separate proposal aimed at reducing historical inequities in funding and transportation costs across school districts brings the proposed total up to $89.3 million in new dollars for next year.

dave jamison
John Pemble/IPR file

Iowa will pay $4.15 million to two women who accused former Iowa Finance Authority director Dave Jamison of sexual harassment in settlement payments approved Monday by state officials.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds fired Jamison in March 2018 after she received complaints about him. Jamison was a longtime friend of the governor’s.

John Pemble / IPR file

Legalizing sports betting takes center stage this week at the Capitol as lawmakers return for week four of the legislative session. There was also some movement last week on a couple of possible constitutional amendments.

John Pemble/IPR file

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that allows states to legalize, tax and regulate sports betting. Until then, Nevada was the only state where fans could legally put bets on games and point spreads. Eight states have now legalized sports betting.

Several proposals that would legalize sports betting in Iowa are set to get a first hearing at the statehouse Wednesday, and lawmakers will hear from numerous competing interests.

naacp presidents testify at statehouse
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal to automatically restore voting rights to Iowans with felony convictions passed its first legislative hurdle Thursday. Groups of many political stripes advocated for it.

regents presidents
Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa’s three public universities asked lawmakers Tuesday for an additional $18 million after raising tuition, and amid plans by two universities to raise tuition again.

The presidents of the University of Iowa and Iowa State University said their requests for $7 million each would go to financial aid for undergraduate students as they continue to raise tuition.

Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen said she is optimistic, but if the request isn’t met, the financial burden will continue to shift to students in the form of bigger tuition hikes.

kayla koether
John Pemble/IPR

Republicans in the Iowa House of Representatives voted Monday night to not count 29 mail-in ballots in a close northeast Iowa statehouse race.

The 53-42 party-line vote approved a report saying the Iowa House does not have the legal authority to open and count the ballots, and upheld Republican incumbent Rep. Michael Bergan’s, R-Dorchester, win by nine votes over a Democratic challenger in House District 55.

John Pemble / IPR file

It's week three of the 2019 Iowa legislative session and there are plenty of issues to watch. IPR's Clay Masters spoke with state government reporter Katarina Sostaric.

Sebastiaan ter Burg

Governor Kim Reynolds has proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow felons in Iowa to vote after completing their prison sentences, probation, and parole.

Since 2011, Iowa felons who serve their full sentences, including parole, must apply for the right to vote. Their ability to vote is then determined on a case-by-case basis by the Governor’s office.

kim reynolds
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds released details Tuesday about a proposal to automatically restore voting rights to Iowans with felony convictions, a priority she announced last week in her Condition of the State address.

She is proposing a constitutional amendment that would automatically allow people with felony convictions to register to vote after they’ve completed their sentence. That includes completing probation or parole under the current definition.

John Pemble/IPR

Republican state lawmakers say they don’t have the legal authority to count 29 ballots that were tossed out in a contested northeast Iowa race. A legislative committee plans to make that recommendation to the full House, which has the final say in the District 55 race. Republican incumbent Michael Bergan beat Democratic challenger Kayla Koether by a nine vote margin in the contest, meaning the 29 ballots could change the outcome.

bobby kaufmann
Joyce Russell/IPR file

A Republican representative who chairs the House State Government Committee said Tuesday there will be no changes to the retirement benefits system for Iowa’s public employees, or IPERS, in the next two years.

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, made the announcement in response to what he called “scare tactics” from some groups warning of imminent changes to IPERS.

planned parenthood lawyer
Michael Zamora / Des Moines Register

A Polk County judge struck down Iowa’s “fetal heartbeat” abortion law Tuesday and ruled it is unconstitutional.

Judge Michael Huppert agreed with Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa that a trial was not necessary to reach that conclusion and ruled in favor of their motion for summary judgment.

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