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
2:58 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Bosma, Long Say RFRA Clarification is in the Works

Senate Pres. Pro-Tem David Long (left) and House Speaker Brian Bosma (right) say the intent of RFRA was never to allow discrimination. The legislative leaders spoke Monday morning.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Republican legislative leaders say they want to help turn the tide against the backlash that’s erupted over Indiana’s so-called religious freedom bill.  They say that will involve making it clear the law does not allow discrimination.

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News
4:14 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Holcomb Announces Bid to Replace Coats

Eric Holcomb announced his candidacy for Dan Coats' Senate seat Thursday.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Just two days after U.S. Senator Dan Coats announced he won’t seek reelection next year, a contender  is throwing his hat into the ring. 

Eric Holcomb steered former Governor Mitch Daniels’ 2008 reelection campaign, led the Indiana  Republican Party and most recently served as State Chief of Staff to Senator Dan Coats. 

But Thursday,  Holcomb announced a personal first: a run for office.

“And that’s why today, ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud, I’m excited," says Holcomb, "to announce my candidacy for the United States Senate.” 

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Politics & Government
4:03 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Pence Signs Controversial RFRA Measure into Law

Gov. Mike Pence signed the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law Thursday. Opponents worry the measure could be used to sanction discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers and others.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Mike Pence says concerns about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act come from a misunderstanding of the law, for which he at least partly blames the media.  Pence signed the controversial bill into law Thursday.

RFRA establishes a judicial test that courts will use to decide when the government can infringe on a person’s religious beliefs and practices. 

Many groups say they’re concerned it will be used to sanction discrimination, particularly against LGBT Hoosiers. 

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Politics & Government
3:36 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Committee Decision Delays Implementation of "Baby Boxes"

Indiana Rep. Casey Cox (left) and Sen. Jim Merritt (right) spoke before an Indiana Senate committee Wednesday.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Senate lawmakers Wednesday added a hurdle to a bill that would have allowed newborn incubators, or “baby boxes” to be placed at Safe Haven sites.  The legislature would now have to pass another bill next year to authorize the boxes.

Baby boxes are installed into the walls special locations – like hospitals and police and fire stations. They’re meant to provide mothers an extra layer of anonymity when dropping off unwanted newborns. 

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Congress
5:47 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Coats Will Not Seek Re-election in 2016

Sen. Dan Coats announced Tuesday he would not seek re-election in 2016.
Credit Courtesy / Dan Coats

U.S. Senator Dan Coats Tuesday announced he will not run for re-election in 2016.

Coats had spoken in recent months about whether to run again, noting that how Congress functioned with Republican majorities would play a major role. 

In a video statement Tuesday, the Hoosier Senator said choosing not to run was not an easy decision. 

“While I believe I am well-positioned to run a successful campaign for another six-year term, I have concluded that the time has come to pass this demanding job to the next generation of leaders,” he said.

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Politics & Government
5:36 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

RFRA Passes House, Heads to Governor's Desk

The Indiana House overwhelmingly passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act Monday. Gov. Mike Pence says he will sign the bill into law.
Credit Andrew Downs / For WBOI News

The Indiana House Monday approved a bill that supporters call a shield protecting people of faith.  But opponents believe the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, commonly known as RFRA, a license to discriminate.

RFRA creates a judicial test for Indiana courts that ensures a government can only restrict religious practices if it has a compelling reason and does so in the least restrictive way. 

Supporters, such as Inglefield Republican Representative Tom Washburne, say the bill helps ensure Hoosiers live in harmony with each other.

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Politics & Government
5:46 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

RFRA Debate Raises Questions About LGBT Civil Rights Protection

Indiana civil rights law does not currently bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which some lawmakers want to change.
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

The controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that’s being debated in the Indiana legislature is sparking another debate: whether state law should protect gays and lesbians from discrimination.

RFRA’s supporters say the proposed law only ensures the government can’t restrict a person’s religious practices unless it has a compelling interest to do so. They believe the state’s civil rights statute qualifies as a compelling interest. 

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Politics & Government
5:08 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Bill Would Include Guard, Reserves in Military Financial Protections

A bill currently in the Indiana Senate would give Indiana National Guard members and reservists the same financial protections as other servicemembers.
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

Legislation approved by a Senate panel Tuesday aims to bolster financial protections for active duty National Guard members and reservists.

The federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act doesn’t necessarily extend to members of the Indiana National Guard or reservists.  And the Attorney General’s office made a state-level protection bill part of its agenda for the session. 

The measure helps protect Guard members and reservists who’ve been on active duty for at least 30 days from foreclosures and default. 

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Politics & Government
4:42 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Senate Approves Experimental Drugs for Terminally-Ill

The Indiana Senate approved a bill Tuesday allowing experimental treatments to be given to some terminally-ill patients.
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

Senate lawmakers unanimously approved the Right to Try bill Tuesday that its sponsor says will give “hope to the hopeless.”

The Right to Try bill would allow terminally-ill patients to receive experimental drugs as long as they meet three standards.  

Valparaiso Republican Senator Ed Charbonneau, the bill’s sponsor says, first, the medications must have passed through the first of three phases in the FDA’s approval process.

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Politics & Government
4:20 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

I.D. Bill Aimed at Amish Hoosiers Passes Senate Committee

An Indiana Senate committee approved a measure Tuesday creating a new state I.D. that doesn't require a photograph. Indiana Rep. Bob Morris authored the bill.
Credit Courtesy / Indiana House Republicans

A Senate committee Tuesday easily approved legislation creating a new state I.D. that does not require a photograph. The bill is aimed at Indiana’s Amish community.

Lloyd Lambright represents a large segment of Indiana’s Amish residents.  He says some of the most conservative members will still refuse to get any kind of state identification card.  But he says for many, the barrier to getting an I.D. is the photograph that accompanies it.

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