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
1:45 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Statehouse Leaders Weigh-in on Redistricting Reform

Indiana's current congressional districts. Some advocates are pushing for a bipartisan approach when the next maps are redrawn
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

Voices calling for Indiana to create an independent redistricting commission are getting louder this session.

Last session, Speaker Brian Bosma coauthored legislation creating a redistricting commission, with members appointed by legislative leaders of both parties.  While that bill passed the House, it never received a hearing in the Senate. 

Bosma says he will offer the bill again, but notes both chambers need to buy-in this time.

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Politics & Government
2:44 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Zoeller Pushes Legislation to Protect Hoosiers Against Data Breaches

Indiana Sen. Jim Merritt and Attorney General Greg Zoeller at a news conference Monday.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

The Indiana attorney general is proposing legislation he says would close legal loopholes and better protect Hoosiers from data breaches and identity theft.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller says notable data breaches, such as those on Sony, Target and Home Depot, have consumers worried about ID theft. 

He says he wants to bring some peace of mind to Hoosiers with legislation he’s pushing that would require companies that store consumer data to regularly review and delete that information.

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Health & Science
7:07 am
Mon December 22, 2014

American Cancer Society Calls for More Funding for Services

The American Cancer Society says Indiana isn’t doing nearly enough to support its breast and cervical cancer screening program.

Government relations director Brianna Herndon says going into a budget session, cancer prevention programs are one of the first items on the Cancer Action Network’s to-do list. 

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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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