IPR News Stories

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. 

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Thomas Hawk via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/14471621099/

The prospect of an all-white Democratic presidential debate later this month is concerning for some candidates and party activists. Following California Sen. Kamala Harris’ exit from the race, still other critics have larger issues with the overall nomination process.

One of the surest ways to fire up Iowa Democrats at a campaign event? Bring up U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. On the fifteenth episode of Caucus Land, we’ll hear how that outrage over K-12 policy is spilling over into presidential candidates’ plans. Plus, a conversation with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Clay Masters / IPR file

A top Iowa lawmaker says Senate Republicans are developing a tax package that may include a sales tax increase to fund water quality efforts and outdoor recreation.

Iowans voted in 2010 to approve a three-eighths of one cent sales tax increase for what is now called Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, or IWILL, but lawmakers haven’t enacted the tax increase to fund the initiative.

At an event Thursday hosted by the Greater Des Moines Partnership, which announced funding IWILL as a top policy priority, legislative leaders were asked about its prospects in 2020.

RelaxingMusic / Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

An Iowa State University study has found more Americans are now struggling to fall - and stay - asleep.

Courtsey of Lindsey Ellickson

California Sen. Kamala Harris’ exit from the presidential contest Tuesday is a loss for some Iowa Democrats who hope to see more diversity in the field. And for some, her departure from the race is also renewing larger debates about the nomination process.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been doing relatively well in Iowa polls and has been talking about her Medicare for All proposal. She says she would phase it in during her first three years as president. Sen. Warren talks about insulating her healthcare plan from partisan whims of Congress, and the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, with IPR Caucus Land co-hosts Clay Masters and Kate Payne in early December.

Ebere Agwuncha / Rachel For Ames

In a run-off election for an Ames City Council seat Tuesday, 20-year-old Iowa State University student Rachel Junck not only defeated incumbent Chris Nelson, but also made history.

Junck is the second-youngest woman ever elected to a government office in Iowa.

Frank Cownie thanks supporters after winning a record fifth term as mayor of Des Moines.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie has narrowly won reelection after defeating former state Sen. Jack Hatch in Tuesday’s runoff election. Unofficial results show Cownie received 51 percent of the vote and won by only 289 votes over Hatch.

By winning a fifth term, Cownie extends his tenure as the longest-serving mayor of Iowa’s largest city.

Clay Masters/IPR

Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is continuing to defend her phased-in Medicare For All plan on the campaign trail. After surging to the front of the crowded presidential field earlier this fall, Warren has been slipping in national and early state polls in recent weeks, as she’s faced increased scrutiny for her healthcare plan and her status as a frontrunner.

Katie Peikes / IPR file

At least one home in southwest Iowa’s Fremont County is still sitting in high water nearly nine months after floodwaters from the Missouri River inundated parts of the county.  

Natalie Krebs / IPR

Across the country, nearly 95,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant, including more than 500 in Iowa, and that list has been growing for years. This has pushed some to try unusual ways to find donors.

newton prison painting
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Inmates at the state prison in Newton are expected to finish building the first two houses in a new construction program by the end of the year, while a new website has launched to display their work.

The Homes For Iowa program that started earlier this year is aimed at filling Iowa’s workforce and affordable housing shortages, while giving inmates skills that may help them get a job when they leave prison.

Harvest Public Media file photo

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed three changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) this year. They affect the employment requirements for adults without dependents who are able to work, whether participation in certain other programs automatically qualifies a person for SNAP and, most recently, how the standard utility deduction is taken in calculating a household’s income.

NWS Des Moines

There’s a new type of National Weather Service winter weather alert.  Meteorologist Kurt Kotenberg of the Des Moines bureau said they’re adding snow squall warnings to the list.

Michael Leland / IPR

Some southwest Iowa communities are still recovering from last year’s devastating spring flooding from the Missouri River, and they’re watching for warnings of possible flooding in 2020. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is emptying out flood control storage in the Upper Missouri River Basin reservoirs to lower the chances of flooding next spring. Nick Johnson with Mills County say residents are usually concerned about the possibility of flooding because the county borders the Missouri River, but even more so this year.

Glen Scott / Flickr

Consumers may encounter higher prices for clothes and home goods this holiday shopping season, as the trade dispute with China is expected to increase costs and slow economic growth in the Midwest.

Amy Mayer / IPR file

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has paid out a record $4.24 billion in claims for acres farmers couldn’t plant this year.

The “prevented planting” provision allows farmers to file a crop insurance claim when weather conditions leave fields unfit for a crop. Heavy spring rains and flooding left some Midwest farm ground too wet for seeds and equipment during the planting window, meaning farmers couldn’t put in the corn or soybeans they’d intended for those acres. 

Laura / Flickr

This Thanksgiving holiday comes in the midst of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Iowans may find themselves spending time with friends and family with very different political views, but there are some ways to keep conversations civil.

Associated Press / Gene J. Puskar

After starting out on WQED in Pittsburgh in 1966, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood made its national public television debut on February 19, 1968.  The final new episode was taped December 1st 2000, but the show lived on through re-runs even after Fred Rogers passed away in 2003.

Three generations have now grown up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood or watching children’s programming heavily influenced by his philosophy.

Katie Peikes / IPR file

Members of the Native American community will march Wednesday in Sioux City to honor Native children who have died in foster care or are lost to the system. But after a prominent local activist died earlier this year, the community is looking to fill the void he left behind.

Clay Masters / IPR

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren says former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy the Democratic presidential nomination.

Bloomberg announced on Sunday he was entering the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary field and buying more than $30 million in TV ads. Bloomberg has said Sen. Warren’s wealth tax of 2 percent on fortunes over $50 million could ruin the economy.

Courtesy of Jennifer C./Flickr

The Sioux City Council decided Monday to toss an 11-year ban on pit bulls and pit bull mixes in the city limits.

Courtesy of Planned Parenthood

Iowans will now have a new online tool to find the nearest clinic that offers abortions.

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

Gov. Kim Reynolds has decided to appeal a $1.5 million discrimination verdict against the state and former Gov. Terry Branstad amid mounting legal costs.

Seven years ago, a former state official who is gay sued Branstad and the state for discrimination and retaliation. In July, a jury awarded Chris Godfrey $1.5 million, finding Branstad and a staffer discriminated against him in 2011 and then retaliated by slashing his salary.

Clay Masters / IPR

Two-term Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president on Saturday. Vilsack, who served as President Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture, has been very active in advising other presidential campaigns this cycle.

Natalie Krebs / IPR

More than two dozen experts, parents and lawmakers gathered in West Des Moines on Friday to discuss issues surrounding childcare in the state.

The border fence between El Paso and Juarez.
Natalie Krebs / IPR

Immigrants in Iowa continue to play a greater role in the state’s economy. In some of these immigrant communities, there’s increased fear because of tighter enforcement of immigration laws under President Donald Trump. Democratic presidential candidates are running against his messages. They’re also proposing solutions to a system many people believe is broken.  

Kate Payne/IPR file

Environmental advocates are calling attention to the state of the Upper Mississippi River levee system, which was under pressure this past spring as communities saw record flooding.

Roan Lavery / Unsplash

Songwriter Frank Loesser wrote "Baby, It's Cold Outside" in 1944, essentially for the amusement of himself and his party guests.

Decades later, there's been fierce debate about what's implied in the back and forth conversation that comprises the lyrics. Ironically, the song was originally written as an invitation for someone to leave, not to stay. 


Western Iowa’s Denison Community School District has determined a high school teacher who used a racial slur last week had “no malicious intent.”