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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2015 Session
12:44 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Advocates Rally for More Public Transit Funding

Rep. Randy Truitt (R-West Lafayette) addressing mass transit advocates at the Statehouse Tuesday.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Public transportation advocates gathered at the Statehouse Tuesday to urge lawmakers to dramatically  increase statewide funding for public transit.

The General Assembly hasn’t increased dollars in the state’s Public Mass Transportation Fund for seven  years. 

Indiana Citizens’ Alliance for Transit organizer Kim Irwin says that’s despite a 15 percent increase  in transit ridership in the last decade.

Her group wants lawmakers to increase funding to $60 million a year, up from $42.5 million in the last budget.

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Politics & Government
4:15 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Zoeller's E-Cig Recommendations Ignored By Legislature

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller asked the legislature to tax e-cigarettes and include them in the statewide smoking ban. Neither suggestion was included in the current e-cigarette bill.
Credit Courtesy / Greg Zoeller

Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s recommendations for inclusion of e-cigarettes in the state’s smoking ban almost certainly won’t be included in legislation regulating the vaping industry.

Zoeller made regulating e-cigarettes one of his priorities this session.  And while proposed legislation aims to regulate the makers and sellers of e-liquids, which are used in e-cigs, the bill does nothing regarding e-cigarettes themselves. 

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Politics & Government
4:40 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

On Wage Repeal Bill, Opponents Push for Study Committee

Pete Rimsans leads the Indiana State Building and Construction Trades Council, which is campaigning against repeal of the common construction wage.
Credit Courtesy

The Indiana House easily approved legislation repealing the state’s common construction wage, and the bill’s support in the Senate looks strong.  For the bill’s opponents, pushing it to a summer study committee could be their best hope.

Set by local boards, the common construction wage is a sort of minimum wage for public construction projects. 

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2015 Session
4:00 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Midwife Certification Bill Heads to the Indiana Senate

Indiana Rep. Don Lehe introduced a bill this session making it easier for midwives to operate in the state. The bill passed the House this week.
Credit Courtesy / Indiana House Republicans

The House this week easily approved legislation aimed at making it easier for midwives to operate legally in Indiana.  But the bill’s future is less certain in the Senate.

Legislation in 2013 established the framework for legalizing midwifery.  But the law requires midwives to have written collaborative agreements with physicians, and unwillingness by doctors to enter into those agreements derailed the state’s attempt to create a licensing process.

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2015 Session
4:28 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

Pence Helps Defeat HPV Vaccine Bill

Senate Minority Leader Scott Pelath.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Mike Pence says he lobbied against legislation encouraging more young people to get vaccinated against HPV because of concerns about government mandates. 

The proposed House bill, authored by Muncie Democrat Sue Errington, set a goal for the state to have  80 percent of 13 to 15 year olds vaccinated against HPV by 2020. 

HPV is a virus linked to several forms  of cancer, including cervical cancer, and only around 20 percent of Hoosiers are currently vaccinated  against it.

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Politics & Government
5:57 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Bosma Scuttles Alternative Energy Bill After Backlash

Citizens Action Coalition Executive Director Kerwin Olson spoke out against the net metering bill, and says the group will be vigilant for similar legislative language until the session ends.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

House Speaker Brian Bosma Tuesday halted a bill opponents say significantly reduces incentives for Hoosiers to use alternative energy for their homes.

Proposed legislation made changes to the system by which utility companies purchase excess electricity from Hoosiers who produce energy through alternative means, such as solar panels.  Utilities would buy that energy at a lower price, and be able to charge alternative energy users fixed monthly fees for using the energy grid. 

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Politics & Government
4:59 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

House Kills Sunday Sales Bill, Both Sides Blame Each Other

The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers has been fighting against lifting the ban on Sunday sales. A bill aimed at doing so died in the House on Tuesday.

Businesses on either side of legislation legalizing Sunday alcohol sales are blaming each other after the bill died in the House Tuesday.  The bill’s author pulled the measure after he said he couldn’t garner enough votes to pass it.

The battle lines in the Sunday sales debate had been unchanged for years: on one side, pushing for Sunday sales, were grocery and convenience stores, led by their lobbying arm, the Indiana Retail Council.  Opposing Sunday sales were the state’s package liquor stores, represented by the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers. 

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Politics & Government
4:37 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

House Passes 2015 Indiana Budget Bill

Indiana Rep. Tim Brown authored the House Republican budget bill.
Credit Courtesy / Indiana House Republicans

House Democrats say the state budget proposed by House Republicans will devastate many public schools throughout the state.  The budget passed overwhelmingly in a House vote Tuesday.

House Republicans named education their top focus this session, and the bulk of debate over the budget revolves around education funding. 

Specifically, it involves changes to the school funding formula that seek to help growing, wealthier suburban school districts.  But those changes would mean significantly less money for poor, inner city schools that are losing students. 

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Politics & Government
3:38 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Freedom Indiana Comes Out Against Proposed Religious Freedom Amendment

The organization behind last year’s successful fight against Indiana’s proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage is back at the Statehouse this year.  The group’s target is a bill that allows people to use religious reasons to challenge state and local laws.

Some of the group that made up last year’s Freedom Indiana coalition, including manufacturer Cummins, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the ACLU, have already spoken out against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA. 

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Politics & Government
4:41 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

Pence Push for Sales Tax Exemption Falls Flat

Gov. Mike Pence says he's still hoping lawmakers will consider some of his sales tax exemptions, some of which are considered too drastic by legislators of both parties.
Credit File

Governor Mike Pence says he still hopes to alter a major sales tax exemption for Hoosier businesses after House lawmakers stripped out a change to the exemption from the governor’s tax legislation.

One of the biggest pieces of Governor Pence’s tax simplification bill was the elimination of what’s called the “double direct” test for determining business sales tax exemptions.  The double direct test is a very specific metric for determining what items are exempt from the sales tax. 

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