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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

Courtesy / State of Indiana

Hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers have enrolled in Governor Pence’s healthcare program HIP 2.0 since rollout began earlier this year.  But the state wants more people to sign up, launching an ad campaign Monday to promote the program.

Halfway through its first year, more than 283,000 Hoosiers are participating in HIP 2.0.  And Family and Social Services Administration spokesman Jim Gavin says so far, enrollment has largely been achieved through word of mouth.

Courtesy / Hoosier Lottery

A private company that manages Indiana’s lottery has failed to meet the state’s revenue goals for the two years it’s been in charge. In response, the State Lottery Commission Friday drastically lowered the targets the company has to meet.

As part of its contract to manage the lottery, management firm GTECH set revenue goals it had to meet or pay a penalty to the state.  It just missed the target its first year and this year it’s on track to fall short by nearly 80 million dollars, bringing in less money than last year. 

Wikimedia Commons

Indiana is heading into the final month of its fiscal year with tax collections ahead of projections.

The state spent much of this fiscal year behind the proverbial eight-ball as tax revenues came in below projections seven out of the first nine months. 

But a new revenue forecast released in April significantly dampened expectations and collections that month surged, helping the state climb out of the financial hole. 

Courtesy / ISDA

Indiana wants to help Hoosier farmers who are ready to grow beyond the farmer’s market. The Indiana Department of Agriculture released new data on food hubs Monday.

“Food hub” can be a broad term, but Agriculture Department Director Ted McKinney says people should think of the word “aggregation” – it’s a way for farmers and food producers, often via a website, to connect with buyers.  And a new Department of Agriculture study shows Indiana can do more to utilize food hubs. 

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