Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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Politics & Government
4:18 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Leaders Find Optimism in Latest Revenue Forecast

Thursday's revenue forecast is the last before legislators convene for the 2015 budget session.
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

State leaders say they’re cautiously optimistic about Indiana’s fiscal future after a new revenue forecast unveiled Thursday predicts two to three percent growth in the next budget cycle.

That growth would mean more than $800 million in new money over the next two years. 

But Senate Appropriations Chair Luke Kenley says even that kind of increase shouldn’t start a spending frenzy.  He notes that even before the forecast he’s been receiving budget requests that total almost double that amount.

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Politics & Government
2:15 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

For Possible Candidates, Deciding Whether to Run for Office Can Be Tricky

Gov. Mike Pence has been rumored to be considering a presidential run for years.
Credit Courtesy / State of Indiana

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s announcement this week that he is actively exploring a presidential bid is causing ripple effects as the 2016 electoral picture begins taking shape.  And an Indiana political strategist has a message for potential presidential candidates: if you’re going to run, run.

Pete Seat is a former spokesman for the Indiana Republican Party, Senator Dan Coats and the Bush administration. 

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News
6:13 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Coalition Pushing to Change the Way Legislative Maps are Drawn

Indiana's district lines are redrawn every 10 years.
Credit State of Indiana

Leaders of “good government” groups say Indiana can’t wait any longer to explore changing the way it redraws its legislative maps every ten years. 

Indiana’s voter turnout in the last election was the lowest in its history and the worst in the country.  Common Cause Indiana’s Julia Vaughn says that’s in part because voters don’t have enough choices,  noting that 44 out of the 100 state Representatives ran unopposed.

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Transportation
5:26 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

General Assembly Unlikely to Raise Road Funding Next Year

Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

The Indiana Department of Transportation says the cost of maintaining Indiana’s roads is substantial and growing, while the revenue streams used to pay for those repairs are decreasing.  Yet, the legislature will likely be unable address that issue in its next budget.

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Courts
4:53 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Court Hears Arguments in Former Secretary of State's Appeal

Former Secretary of State Charlie White is appealing his 2012 voter fraud conviction. The Indiana Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday.
Credit File

An attorney for former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White says state law was misapplied when White was convicted in 2012 of six criminal counts stemming from voter fraud.  Arguments in the case took place Tuesday before the state Court of Appeals.

White’s appeal included several arguments – the jury wasn’t properly instructed, selective prosecution, his attorney at the time – Carl Brizzi – was ineffective. 

But when pressed by the Appeals Court judges for the strongest argument, White’s current attorney Andrea Ciobanu says it’s misapplication of the law. 

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Congress
2:55 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Senate Bill Aims to Reduce Suicide in the Military

Sen. Joe Donnelly authored a bill aimed at preventing military suicides that he expects to pass the Senate soon.
Credit File

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly says legislation nearing passage will be an enormous help in preventing suicide among military service members.  More than 3,000 active-duty soldiers have taken their lives since 2001.

The rate of suicide among National Guard members has grown more than any other military branch in the last five years.  That’s why legislation Donnelly authored requires annual mental health assessments for all servicemembers – including members of the National Guard and reservists. 

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Education
3:32 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Legislators Split Along Party Lines on Pence's Education Changes

Gov. Mike Pence this week proposed making the state superintendent a position chosen by the state board of education. It's currently a statewide elected position.
Credit State of Indiana

Legislative leaders are split along party lines in their evaluations of Governor Mike Pence’s proposed changes to the state’s education hierarchy.

Governor Pence will eliminate the controversial Center for Education and Career Innovation, or CECI, which has been a thorn in the side of state Superintendent Glenda Ritz since its creation two years ago. 

But Pence also wants the General Assembly to allow the State Board of Education – made up of Pence appointees – to elect its own chair, a position held by Ritz. 

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News
3:51 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

New Group Renews Push to End Ban on Sunday Alcohol Sales

Credit Hoosiers for Sunday Sales

A coalition of grocery stores, business and consumer groups is renewing the push to end Indiana’s ban on Sunday alcohol sales.  The group says 2015 is their best chance yet.

The newly-formed Hoosiers for Sunday Sales says the push this time is different, in part because previous efforts have been joined with ending the prohibition on cold beer sales at grocery stores – an issue that’s now tied up in court. 

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Politics & Government
12:49 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Groups Fight to Reduce Hoosier Smoking in 2015

Indiana Chamber of Commerce CEO Kevin Brinegar wants legislators to repeal the state's Smoker's Bill of Rights in 2015.
Credit Courtesy / Indiana Chamber of Commerce

American Cancer Society officials say Indiana lawmakers should explore ways to help incentivize Hoosiers to quit smoking, a position reflected in the group’s 2015 legislative priorities.

Apart from health advocacy organizations like the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, groups such as the Indiana Chamber of Commerce are part of the fight to reduce smoking.  For two years, one of the group’s legislative priorities has been eliminating the Smoker’s Bill of Rights.

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Politics & Government
12:30 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Environmental Group Concerned New Energy Plan Isn't Enough

Environmental groups say they’re concerned the legislature will create a watered-down statewide energy efficiency program to replace the program eliminated earlier this year.

Lawmakers voted last session to eliminate the program known as Energizing Indiana amid concerns about its rising costs.  Governor Mike Pence pledged to bring legislators a new energy efficiency proposal in the upcoming session, one crafted by the Utility Regulatory Commission. 

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