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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Health Care
4:22 pm
Thu July 9, 2015

Six Months After Start, Groups Applaud HIP 2.0 Rollout

Credit Courtesy / State of Indiana

It’s been nearly six months since HIP 2.0 was approved, and the state has enrolled nearly 300,000 Hoosiers in the health insurance program.  More than a dozen health care advocacy groups and insurers sang the praises of the program at a public forum Thursday.

As of July 1st, a little more than 289,000 residents have signed up for health care coverage through HIP 2.0.  186 thousand of them never had health insurance before.  And 70 percent of enrollees are using HIP Plus, which requires contributions to a health savings account. 

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Politics & Government
5:01 pm
Wed July 8, 2015

Indy's Church of Cannabis Will Use RFRA in Lawsuit

Indiana’s highly-publicized First Church of Cannabis is going to court, hoping to stop the state from enforcing marijuana laws when it comes to the use of cannabis in its church services.  The church’s attorney will use the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA to help his case.

RFRA creates a legal standard that says government must have a compelling reason to restrict someone’s religious practice and do so in the least burdensome way possible. 

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Politics & Government
5:41 pm
Mon July 6, 2015

Indiana Joins Lawsuit Challenging EPA Water Rule

Attorney General Greg Zoeller says the EPA's new water rules intrude on state sovereignty.
Credit Courtesy / Office of the Attorney General

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says the Hoosier State will join a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s new water rule.  Zoeller says he’s concerned about the potential cost to the state’s agricultural industry.

The EPA recently finalized a rule broadening the definition of “waters of the United States” – that is, which bodies of water fall under federal regulation.  The term would now include small bodies of water, including streams, ponds, and drainage ditches.  Regulating those types of small waterways has always been left up to the states. 

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Business
2:16 pm
Mon July 6, 2015

"Indiana Grown" Campaign Aims to Promote Hoosier Products

The "Indiana Grown" program launches July 7th.
Credit Courtesy / Indiana Dept. of Agriculture

The Indiana Department of Agriculture this week will announce the launch of Indiana Grown, a program promoting products made and produced in the Hoosier State.

The idea of a “Made in Indiana” brand isn’t new.  But state Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney says the previous version was underfunded and understaffed and, thus, ineffective. 

McKinney says the new program, Indiana Grown, is much more robust, with funding from the Department of Agriculture – and Hoosiers can already see results.

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Courts
5:24 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

First Lawsuit Filed Using New Religious Freedom Law

Credit Courtesy / ACLU

Indiana’s religious freedom law known as RFRA will be used for the first time in a suit challenging a new state law that bars sex offenders from churches.

A new law that went into effect Wednesday says people convicted of sex offenses against children cannot enter school property.  And ACLU-Indiana legal director Ken Falk says because that phrase “school property” is broadly written, it could mean that offenders can’t attend religious services if the church is next to a school. 

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Courts
1:50 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Synthetic Drug Law Challenged in State Supreme Court

The Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday on the state's synthetic drug law, which the state says helps it keep up with manufacturers making drugs like bath salts.
Credit Courtesy / Drug Enforcement Administration

The state Supreme Court Thursday heard arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of Indiana’s law banning synthetic drugs.  The suit involves powers given to the Board of Pharmacy to create emergency rules.

Lawmakers in 2012 gave the Board of Pharmacy rulemaking authority to add more synthetic drugs to the list of banned substances, in the hopes of keeping up with synthetic drug manufacturers.  Two men charged with dealing synthetic drugs challenged the law. 

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SCOTUS
5:10 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court Defends Independent Redistricting Commissions

Monday's Supreme Court ruling keeps the door open for non-partisan state redistricting commissions.
Credit Courtesy / Indiana Election Division

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday upheld the constitutionality of an independent redistricting commission in Arizona, a system that keeps the redrawing of legislative maps out of the legislature’s hands.  That decision could have a major impact on Indiana as lawmakers prepare to examine ways to take some of the politics out of electoral redistricting.

Indiana legislative leaders – both Republican and Democrat – who’ve long supported redistricting reform overcame a major hurdle this year by gaining support for a redistricting study committee. 

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Taxes
4:54 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Tax Amnesty Program Will Start in September

During the state's first tax amnesty period in 2005, Indiana collected about $244 million.
Credit Flickr User / Tracy O

Hoosier businesses and individuals who owe back taxes to the state will have an opportunity to pay what they owe, without a penalty, this fall.  The governor Monday announced a start date for the state’s tax amnesty program.

Indiana conducted its first tax amnesty program in 2005, collecting about $244 million in back taxes.  Those who participated in that program will be ineligible to take advantage of a new tax amnesty window, open from September 15 to November 16. 

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SCOTUS
3:55 pm
Thu June 25, 2015

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Obamacare Subsidies

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of Obamacare's federal subsidies Thursday.
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

Hoosiers who receive tax subsidies to reduce the cost of their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act say they’re celebrating after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling protecting those subsidies.

Nearly 160,000 Hoosiers have subsidies that reduce the cost of their insurance by an average of $320 per month. 

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Transportation
6:49 pm
Mon June 22, 2015

DOJ Finds Hoosier Amtrak Stations Not ADA Compliant

The DOJ found none of Indiana's 11 Amtrak stations are ADA compliant
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

A Department of Justice investigation found that many of Amtrak’s facilities across the country don’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, including all 11 Indiana stations.

Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services, the state’s disability advocacy agency, is one of several organizations around the country that filed complaints against Amtrak with the Department of Justice. 

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