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
5:26 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

IEDC Pushes for Additional Regional Cities Money

The Regional Cities Initiative website urges Hoosiers to lobby lawmakers for more funding. But legislative leaders say funding levels need to be balanced between the initiative and other projects.

Legislative leaders say an aggressive push by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation likely won’t influence final negotiations over how much money to put into the governor’s Regional Cities Initiative.  The initiative is meant to help foster greater collaboration in economic development between communities around the state.

The governor’s proposed budget puts $42 million a year towards the IEDC project.  The House and Senate scaled that back to $10 million a year. 

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Politics & Government
4:29 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

INDOT Commissioner Abruptly Resigns

The Indiana Department of Transportation has new leadership after Commissioner Karl Browning abruptly resigned Wednesday. Gov. Mike Pence won’t say why the longtime official is leaving.

Karl Browning has led INDOT since 2013, and previously served as Commissioner from 2006 to 2009. He submitted his resignation via email to the governor Wednesday morning, saying he was proud of his accomplishments but that it was “time to move on.” 

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Politics & Government
3:47 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Live Dealers Still a Controversial Issue at the Statehouse

Sen. Luke Kenley (foreground) listens to testimony from Centaur Gaming VP John Keeler at the Statehouse Wednesday.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

As lawmakers negotiate the final details of gaming legislation, the future of live dealers at racetrack casinos remains one of the most controversial provisions.  Racino advocates made a final public plea Wednesday.

When the gaming bill left the House, it allowed racinos to replace some electronic games with tables that have live dealers.  The Senate altered that arrangement, instead allowing racinos to add live dealers beginning in 2021. 

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Jobs
4:15 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Hoosier Unemployment Rate Lower Last Month, But...

Indiana's unemployment rate fell in March due to a drop in the labor participation rate.
Credit Courtesy / State of Indiana

Indiana’s unemployment rate fell in March to its lowest level in five months, but the state’s private sector also lost jobs last month.

The Hoosier unemployment rate fell one tenth of a percent to 5.8 percent in March, the second month in a row the rate went down. 

But that drop may not be good news: the state’s private sector lost 800 jobs last month, fueled by huge losses – more than 5,000 – in the professional and business services sector. 

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Politics & Government
5:44 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Advocates Push for Spending for State Retiree Benefits

Indiana Retired Teachers Association executive director Nancy Tolson says many retired state employees need the additional benefit lawmakers cut from the new budget.
Credit Courtesy / Indiana Retired Teachers Association

Members of the public Friday got their last chance to weigh in on the budget bill this session.  Retiree advocates made a plea for more spending even as a gloomy new revenue forecast has lawmakers looking to cut money out of their budget proposals.

The so-called “13th check” is an additional yearly benefit for retired public employees and teachers.  The amount can range from $150-$450. 

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Politics & Government
4:49 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Senate Votes to Repeal Common Construction Wage

Indiana Sen. Carlin Yoder authored the bill repealing the common construction wage, which passed in the Senate Wednesday.
Credit Courtesy / Indiana House Republicans

The Senate Wednesday narrowly approved a bill eliminating the state’s common construction wage.  Legislators spent more than three hours over the past two days debating the issue of repealing Indiana’s minimum wage for construction workers on public projects.

Opponents of the bill like Portage Democrat Karen Tallian note that the common wage helps support job training programs and ensures public projects are properly built by well-trained, highly paid workers.

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2015 Session
1:00 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

High-Fenced Hunting Preserve Bill Dies in Senate

Avon Republican Senator Pete Miller opposed the hunting bill.
Credit Indiana Senate Republicans

For the second year in a row, the Senate shot down a bill regulating Indiana’s high-fenced deer hunting preserves. 

The legality of the state’s high-fenced hunting facilities has been the subject of legislative debate and  court proceedings for a decade. This year’s legislation would have limited the industry to the four  existing preserves and imposed significant regulation. 

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Politics & Government
3:42 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Thousands Protest Construction Wage Repeal

Thousands of protesters rallied at the Indiana Statehouse Monday against the repeal of the Common Construction Wage law.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Thousands of construction workers gathered at the Statehouse Monday to loudly protest a bill eliminating the state’s common construction wage. It’s the latest in a battle over the future of the minimum wage in public projects.

More than 2,000 predominantly union workers and contractors filled the south lawn of the Statehouse, listening to industry leaders and lawmakers oppose a bill repealing the common wage law.

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Politics & Government
4:13 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

Senate Leaders Want to Spend Less 'Major Moves' Money

The Senate Republican budget proposal mirrors its House counterpart in setting aside $400 million for future road projects.  The chamber's budget leader says he’d like to keep that money in state coffers the next two years.

In the 2013 budget, lawmakers created the Major Moves 2020 fund that put aside $400 million for future projects.  But the Pence administration, with State Budget Committee approval, took that money and spent it on road projects over the last two years. 

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2015 Session
2:09 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Bill Repealing Common Construction Wage Goes Forward

Buck Creek Republican Senator Brandt Hershman authored an amendment to the bill, saying it ensures workers are well trained and public projects well done.
Credit Indiana Senate Republicans

A Senate committee Tuesday approved a bill repealing the state’s common construction wage while also adding new requirements for contractors on public projects. The legislation eliminating the minimum wage for public construction projects heads to  the Senate floor.

An amendment added in committee would require contractors to have training programs and liability  insurance, and bars them from paying employees in cash. It also prohibits local governments from  passing their own version of the common wage. 

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