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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News
2:44 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Indiana Will Recoup Some Tobacco Settlement Money

Indiana will recoup nearly 40 percent of the money it lost this year in a dispute over a 1990s tobacco settlement.  The money is used to help fund tobacco cessation programs, community health centers and the state’s children’s health insurance program.

Forty-six states reached a settlement with the four largest tobacco companies in 1998 that pays out more than $200 billion over 25 years.  More than 40 other tobacco companies have since joined the settlement and part of the deal requires states to ensure those companies are paying the correct amounts into an escrow account.  

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News
1:55 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Federal Judge Rules Indiana's Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Indiana's ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional.
Credit Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

A federal judge Wednesday struck down Indiana’s ban on same sex marriage, saying marrying the person you love, regardless of gender, is a fundamental right.

In his ruling, Judge Richard Young says he’s never seen a “phenomenon” throughout the federal court system like the recent cases regarding same-sex marriage. 

Lambda Legal, the gay rights organization that represents the couples challenging Indiana’s ban, says there have been 19 federal rulings in same-sex marriage suits in the last year – and all 19 have gone in favor of same-sex couples. 

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Politics & Government
4:09 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Pence Says Tax Conference is About Complexity, Not Revenue

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Credit Courtesy

An Indiana Tax Conference held Tuesday focused on simplifying the state’s tax system.  Governor Mike Pence says a simpler code will be a big part of his legislative agenda next session.

Participants at the conference included Arthur Laffer, the principal architect of Reaganomics, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, and former Bush administration economic advisor Al Hubbard. 

Their message is uniform: Indiana’s tax code is too complex and must be simplified to create a better environment for economic growth. 

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Politics & Government
2:28 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Conference Aims to Open Discussion on Hoosier Tax Climate

Governor Mike Pence will convene a tax conference in Indianapolis this week that he says will bring together leading tax reform thinkers to focus on making Indiana’s tax climate more competitive.

The Indiana Tax Competitiveness and Simplification Conference will feature more than two hundred national and local tax experts in an effort to develop recommendations for the Pence administration and General Assembly. 

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News
2:16 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Hoosier Unemployment Rate Holds Steady in May

Indiana’s unemployment rate in May failed to drop for the first time in nine months, holding steady at 5.7 percent.

Indiana’s private sector added 4,800 jobs last month, yet the unemployment rate remained unchanged. 

The Department of Workforce Development says that’s because the state’s labor force increased, with about 2,000 unemployed Hoosiers actively resuming the job hunt.  The state’s unemployment rate remains more than half a percent below the national average.  And it’s dropped nearly two percent in just one year, with 4,600 jobs added since May 2013. 

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Money
3:46 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Effort to Allow Cold Beer in Convenience Stores Falls Flat

Groups pushing Indiana to allow cold beer sales in convenience stores likely face a tough road in the state legislature.

A federal judge this week ruled against convenience store owners in their lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on cold beer sales by non-liquor stores. 

In a statement, Attorney General Greg Zoeller noted that the proper place for debating the issue is the legislature

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Politics & Government
1:50 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Pence Says Minott Departure a "Change in Direction"

Indiana FSSA Secretary Debra Minott said Monday she would be leaving her position in one to two months.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Mike Pence is offering little explanation about the pending departure of Family and Social Services Secretary Debra Minott, saying only that he wants a “change in direction.”

In a statement released Monday, Minott said she would be transitioning out of her role within a month or two and would work with Governor Pence to ensure that transition is orderly. 

In a separate statement, Pence simply thanked Minott for her service, while his office cited a desire to change direction at the agency as the reason for the move.  A day later, Pence was saying the same thing.

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Politics & Government
4:54 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Indiana Preps HIP 2.0 Ahead of Federal Approval

FSSA Secretary Debra Minott says her agency is moving forward with HIP 2.0 preparations on the assumption the feds will approve the plan.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration is preparing for implementation of HIP 2.0, its healthcare expansion plan, even though federal approval of the program could still be months away.

Only Hoosiers earning up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level – about $24,000 for a family of four – are eligible for the current Healthy Indiana Plan.  That leaves more than 300,000 people without affordable health insurance coverage.  HIP 2.0 would expand that up to 138 percent of the poverty level – about $33,000 per year. 

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News
4:42 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

No More Summer Utility Assistance for Low Income Hoosiers

Indiana won’t provide low-income families with financial help when dealing with summer cooling needs.  

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority traditionally provides $50 benefits to utility companies to help low-income households deal with high energy bills as they try to keep cool  during the summer months.

Those Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, benefits  won’t be offered this summer because the state ran out of money – it’s already spent nearly $50 million this fiscal year for winter heating assistance.

Politics & Government
3:40 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Corrections Coming for Criminal Code Update

Ind. Reps. Greg Steuerwald and Matt Pierce speaking about the coming technical corrections to the Indiana criminal code.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

The full General Assembly will meet at the Statehouse Tuesday to make changes to the state’s criminal code overhaul before the law takes effect July first.

The bulk of Indiana’s overhaul of the criminal code was passed in 2013.  But lawmakers put off its effective date until this summer so they could make further changes during the 2014 legislative session. 

In the wake of this year’s session, legislators and prosecutors have identified a few issues, mostly involving technical errors within the more than four hundred page bill. 

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