IPR News Stories

Coming Soon! Caucus Land - As the first in the nation voting state, Iowa is where all presidential candidates begin - and many end - their campaign to the White House. Join IPR reporters Clay Masters and Kate Payne as they delve into Iowa's role in shaping the nominating field - from Iowa's caucus history to the candidates, the moments and people that shape the 2020 presidential cycle. 

Pre-subscribe to "Caucus Land" for an in-depth look at the importance of the Iowa caucuses, how they define a candidate's campaign in other states and how voters in Iowa shape the national conversation in advance of a presidential election.

Former Iowa governor and current ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, gives testimony at the Polk County Courthouse in Des Moines.
Des Moines Register pool photo

Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad testified Friday that he did not discriminate against Christopher Godfrey when he asked him to resign as Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation Commissioner before his six-year term was up.

Godfrey is suing Branstad, claiming he was asked to leave the position in 2011 because he is gay and that, after he declined, Branstad retaliated by slashing his salary.

Thomas Hawk/Flickr Creative Commons

Some Democratic presidential candidates are knocking the party for excluding them from debates later this month. The events pose a prime opportunity for lesser-known contenders to build a national profile, standing on the same stage as candidates currently leading in the polls.

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.


A new analysis shows Iowans may face higher risks of certain health issues due to nitrate pollution in drinking water. Across the country, thousands of cases of certain cancers and birth defects may be linked to the contaminant, researchers found.

Despite Reforms, Burden Still Heavy On Owners Of Seized Property

Jun 14, 2019
Darrell Hoemann/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

This story is part of a collaborative reporting initiative supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. See all the stories at taken.pulitzercenter.org.

A 2018 recreational brand vehicle, $500,000 in cash, a quarter and a red Bass Pro Shop baseball cap.

Reforms To State Civil Forfeiture Laws Still Lag, Critics Say

Jun 14, 2019
Photo Courtesy of the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

This story is part of a collaborative reporting initiative supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. See all the stories at taken.pulitzercenter.org.

Increasing lawsuits and allegations of civil right violations prompted the Illinois legislature to pass reforms of civil asset forfeitures that went into effect last year.

Both federal and state civil asset forfeiture laws allow the seizure of property without a criminal charge being filed or case being filed in court.

Amy Mayer / IPR

A bubble of faith burst for a church in Ames this week after its gay pride flag was ripped down and burned.

The welcoming and affirming Ames United Church of Christ, located downtown, existed in a “happy bubble,” says senior minister Eileen Gebbie. And even after Adolfo Martinez allegedly destroyed the church’s gay pride flag in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, Gebbie wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.


Barb Stein's Reading List

Picture Books/Board Books

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont

Lion and Mouse by Jairo Buitrago

Camp Tiger by Susan Choi

Gondra's Treasure by Linda Sue Park

Transitional Books

Juana & Lucas Big Problems by Juana Medina

Good Dog, McTavish by Meg Rosoff

Big Foot and Little Foot The Squatchicorns by Ellen Potter

Middle School

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.

Rural communities are some of the most politically disenfranchised when it comes to climate policy, and last year’s National Climate Change Report showed they’re also among the most at risk when it comes to the effect of climate change. This could mean stronger storms, more intense droughts and earlier freezes.

Katie Peikes / IPR

The Le Mars-based maker of Blue Bunny Ice Cream on Wednesday unveiled year-long renovations made to its ice cream parlor. Wells Enterprises celebrated its grand reopening alongside Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

John Pemble /IPR

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is creating a new public relations job in her office. The public relations manager will write speeches for the governor and make sure messages about the governor’s goals are consistent across state agencies. The office is also adding to her policy team with new funding from the legislature.

federal courthouse
Natalie Krebs/IPR

A senior official at the Department of Human Services testified in a federal court in Des Moines Wednesday that the state agency has been working to provide more mental health services to a state-run school for delinquent teenage boys.

Erolld Belegu, an advisor to Kosovo's prime minister, explains the country's incentives for Iowa businesses.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

The Republic of Kosovo is making a pitch for Iowa companies to invest in the young country’s economy. Representatives from Iowa’s sister-state in southeastern Europe were in Norwalk Wednesday to promote a program which includes 1,200 acres of land that will be parceled out to companies willing to build new operations in the country.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cwppra/ / Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection And Restoration Act

This summer’s Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” – an area with depleted oxygen – could be a near-record size. Models differ, but show the affected area growing.

Katie Peikes / IPR

The  U.S. Coast Guard has re-opened a portion of the Missouri River to commercial and recreational boat traffic after high waters forced it to close last week.



Whether you’re looking for scientific exploration, captivating memoir, or an opportunity to get lost in a novel, summer is the perfect time to pick up a new book release.

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.

U.S. Air Force photo/Carol Lawrence

Persistent exposure to death and trauma puts firefighters, police officers, dispatchers, and paramedics at increased risk for negative mental health symptoms.

In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer asks first responders how they go about tackling those challenges and how they get support for post-traumatic stress and depression related to their work.

Then, we examine why interest in becoming a police officer is down dramatically across the country as well as here in Iowa, and what’s being done about it.

Guests in today’s program include:

Amy Mayer/IPR file

President Donald Trump will be in Iowa Tuesday talking up his administration’s recent move to allow year-round sales of E15. That’s a form of gasoline with higher blends of ethanol – primarily made from corn. It’s a policy meant to bolster Trump’s support in the upper Midwest where farmers have been hurting as a result of his trade wars and natural disasters.

Katie Peikes / IPR

It’s been several days since high water forced the U.S. Coast Guard to close a 750 mile stretch of the Missouri River to boat and barge traffic. The closure is hurting some businesses that rely on the river.

federal courthouse
Natalie Krebs/IPR

An official at a state-run school for delinquent teenage boys testified in federal court Monday that the use of an isolation chamber and physical restraints is for the protection, not punishment, of the students.

John Pemble / IPR

Nineteen of the Democratic presidential candidates gave speeches at one event in Cedar Rapids Sunday.  The candidates mostly took to bashing President Donald Trump, but there were subtle jabs at the front-runner.

The candidates just got five minutes each to speak. The most notable absence from the lineup was Joe Biden, the current frontrunner in the latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN Iowa Poll published over the weekend. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York made a swipe at the former vice president regarding abortion.

Clay Masters / IPR file

A northwest Iowa city that was discharging untreated wastewater into the Little Sioux River has contracted with a manure hauler to stop the releases.

federal courthouse
Natalie Krebs/IPR

A state-run school for delinquent teenage boys has failed to meet professional standards for treating and screening mental illness, according to expert witness testimony during the opening day of a federal trial against the Boys State Training School in Eldora.

Courtesy of Fremont County Emergency Management

Progress is being made to repair the damage done to levees on the Missouri River by flooding this spring, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday.

Håkan Dahlström/Flickr creative commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

An investigation by Iowa’s state auditor alleges a former employee of an Iowa City business group improperly spent nearly half a million dollars with a company credit card.

Dean Borg/IPR

Rail workers using specialized heavy equipment are clearing wreckage from an early Thursday morning Union Pacific derailment in Stanwood in east central Iowa.

The train was traveling on one of Iowa’s busiest rail lines, carrying coal eastward through the state.  Several coal cars derailed, stalling the train in the Cedar County town, and blocking Iowa Highway 38 northward.  Those cars have since been moved, resuming highway traffic on Iowa 38.

The Union Pacific railroad runs parallel to U.S. Highway 30, and the derailment is one block north.

Iowa DNR

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is sponsoring free fishing this weekend. State residents can try fishing without buying a license Friday through Sunday.

DNR Chief of Fisheries, Joe Larscheid, said there are a number of activities planned designed to help make memories.

Katie Peikes / IPR

Early, heavy and, in some areas, nearly relentless rains have led to a late planting season across much of the central United States, especially for corn.

Flooded fields can stymie planting — even if the rain lets up for a couple of days — because the ground is too wet and soft for heavy equipment. Even where farmers were able to plant, heavy rain sometimes required another round of seeds after the first ones were swamped.