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
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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Politics & Government
4:53 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Bill Barring Abortion for Fetal Gender, Disability Draws Fire

Indiana Sen. Liz Brown authored a bill barring women from having abortions due to issues with gender or genetic disabilities in the fetus.
Credit Courtesy / Liz Brown

Opponents of a bill barring women from having abortions because of the child’s gender or disability say it will restrict a woman’s right to choose.

The proposed legislation, authored by Fort Wayne Republican Senator Liz Brown, prohibits abortions done because of the child’s gender or if they have a genetic disability such as Down syndrome. 

Supporters say the measure helps women know they have options beyond abortion and that a child being diagnosed with a disability is not a death sentence. 

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Politics & Government
4:44 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

House Bill Would Eliminate Common Construction Wage

Leaders from Indiana’s construction industry spent more than four hours Tuesday debating a bill that would eliminate the state’s common construction wage.

The common construction wage is a sort of minimum wage for public construction projects.  It’s set for each individual project by a local wage board. 

Carmel Republican Representative Jerry Torr’s bill would end the 80-year-old system.  He says the common construction wage inhibits competition and artificially inflates wages. 

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Politics & Government
10:33 am
Tue February 17, 2015

GOP Leaders Highlight Education in New State Budget

Indiana House Ways & Means Chair Tim Brown says education spending is a top priority in the GOP's new budget, released Monday.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

House Republican budget architect Tim Brown says his caucus’ proposed budget will include more money spent on education than ever before in state history.  The House GOP’s budget proposal was unveiled Monday.

House Republican leaders have said for months that education was their top priority this session and that they planned a significant increase in funding for K through 12 schools. 

To that end, House Ways and Means Chair Tim Brown says, under the House GOP budget, schools would get $469 million more over the next two years than they did in the last state budget.

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Politics & Government
9:52 am
Tue February 17, 2015

Simplified Tax Code Bill Headed for a House Vote

Indiana Rep. Todd Huston sponsored a bill and several amendments aimed at simplifying the state's tax code.
Credit Courtesy / Indiana House Republicans

A measure aimed at simplifying the state’s tax code is on its way to the House floor.  But the version committee members passed doesn’t include as many changes as Governor Mike Pence was pushing for.

Pence’s proposed tax bill, sponsored by Fishers Republican Representative Todd Huston, aims to simplify the tax code by, in part, eliminating more than two dozen tax credits. It also included a change to a sales tax exemption for Hoosier businesses. 

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Health & Science
9:42 am
Tue February 17, 2015

Advocates Push to Reduce Indiana's Teen Suicide Rate

A new report says Indiana’s rate of teenagers considering suicide in the last year is the worst in the nation.  And the rate of Hoosier teenagers attempting suicide is second highest in the country. 

Now, suicide prevention advocates are working to make inroads at the Statehouse, preparing lawmakers to deal with the issue.

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