Brandon Smith

IPBS Statehouse Reporter

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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Brandon Smith / IPBS

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is throwing its support – and its money – behind Todd Young (R-9th) in Indiana’s U.S. Senate race.

The U.S. Chamber’s endorsement comes with a seven-figure ad buy throughout the state.

Chamber Vice President Rob Engstrom says the decision to endorse Young was simple: the Republican voted with the Chamber 91-percent of the time. Engstrom compares that to Evan Bayh’s (D-IN) 55-percent Chamber voting record.

LuAnn Snawder / https://www.flickr.com/photos/luann_snawder_photography/

  A former federal immigration official testified Wednesday before an Indiana Senate panel on immigration, and he painted a bleak picture of the U.S. immigration system.

Michael Cutler worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service for 30 years before leaving the agency two decades ago. He’s now affiliated with a private think-tank that advocates for limiting all immigration – including legal immigration.

Testifying before the study committee, Cutler warned of what he sees as the dangers posed by illegal immigration.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/anotherpintplease/

The Indiana State Fair sold alcohol for the first time since the 1940s in 2014 – but only at a beer and wine exhibition closed to anyone under 21. And patrons couldn’t carry alcohol out.

The second year, the Fair added sales at concerts in the Coliseum.

This year, alcohol is sold at Free Stage concerts. Representative Ed Clere (R-New Albany) co-sponsored the 2014 bill and says he trusts Fair officials to balance higher revenue with the right atmosphere.

“The balance is making sure that it stays family-friendly," Clere says.

Brandon Smith, Indiana Public Broadcasting

As the state decides how and where to spend future transportation funding dollars, determining the conditions of Indiana’s infrastructure is a vital piece of the puzzle.

Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith reports on efforts within the state that aim to improve this process for Indiana and the nation.

At first look, the Steel Bridge Research, Inspection and Training Engineering Center, or S-BRITE Center, commonly called the bridge gallery, isn’t remarkable.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Republican precinct committeemen in Indiana’s 4th and 5th congressional districts voted Saturday to return Todd Rokita and Susan Brooks to their reelection campaigns.

U-S Representatives Susan Brooks and Todd Rokita each withdrew from their House races last month to vie for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, vacated when Mike Pence joined the presidential ticket.

When Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb got the nod, Brooks and Rokita immediately announced their intentions to return to their reelection campaigns.

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana is one of only five states in the country without any bias or hate crime language in its laws. A democratic state senator wants to change that, proposing a bill that goes further than a failed proposal from the 2016 session.

Brandon Smith, Indiana Public Broadcasting

Two candidates for Indiana Lieutenant Governor met Tuesday in a debate that touched on topics ranging from rural and agricultural issues to infrastructure, government regulation, and annexation.

An oft-mentioned issue was the need for greater broadband accessibility in rural Indiana.

Republican Suzanne Crouch says more private grants are becoming available to address that issue.

Eric J Paparatto / https://www.flickr.com/photos/ejpphoto/

Indiana’s new fiscal year got off to a slightly underwhelming start, continuing the streak of lackluster beginnings to its fiscal years under Governor Mike Pence.

In the four starts to a fiscal year during the Pence administration, the state’s tax collections came in less than projected each year.

It’s a slim margin this year – a little more than $7 million off the mark and less than one percent less than expected.

Individual income taxes did well in July, nearly $20 million better than projections.

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Indiana’s race for U.S. Senate between Republican Todd Young and Democrat Evan Bayh is going negative, with no end in sight.

Almost immediately after Evan Bayh entered the race a few weeks ago, the Young campaign and its national Republican backers began their attacks, focusing on whether Bayh lives in Indiana.

The negativity permeates the two candidates’ personal interactions.  Here’s Bayh and Young greeting each other at the State Fair last week.

Bayh: “Hey Todd, how are you?”

Young: “Did you just fly in this morning?”

Indiana Public Broadcasting

Educating young people about Indiana’s Lifeline Law has a new focus this year – text to 911.

The Lifeline Law provides immunity from underage drinking charges to minors who seek help for themselves or others. And it applies not just to those who call 911, but those who text it as well.

State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell – who chairs the Statewide 911 Board – says texting allows dispatchers to more easily follow up on 911 hang-ups, citing a recent example:

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