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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Business
6:31 am
Thu July 24, 2014

State Commission Will Continue Debate Over Business Personal Property Tax

A hotel in downtown Terre Haute -- a city whose mayor says the business personal property tax could stifle a budget that has already shrunk by 40-percent due to tax caps.
Credit Paul Sableman / https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasa/6148688399

The next showdown between the state and local governments over the business personal property tax will be at a blue ribbon commission studying the issue this summer. 

Legislation passed this year allows local governments to either exempt new equipment from the business personal property tax, eliminate it on small businesses or abate the tax on specific projects for up to 20 years.  It also created a study committee to examine the business personal property tax. 

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Government
11:10 am
Wed July 23, 2014

As Appeals Courts Differ On Obamacare Exchanges, Pence Says Indiana Got It Right

One appeals court panel says those buying healthcare from the federal exchange can't take subsidies to pay for it, another rejects that argument.
Credit Healthcare.gov

Governor Mike Pence says he stands by his decision not to operate a state-run health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act. 

Two federal appeals courts Tuesday ruled on cases involving insurance subsidies in the Affordable Care Act.  A Washington D.C. circuit court ruled that the federal government cannot provide subsidies for more than four million Americans—including more than 100,000 Hoosiers-- who purchased insurance through federally-run healthcare exchanges. 

Just a few hours later, an appeals court in Virginia ruled in favor of the Obama administration. 

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Government
7:14 am
Tue July 22, 2014

State Unveils News Transparency Website

The website tracks how the state spends its money and whether it's getting good returns on its investments.
Credit State of Indiana

The governor’s office has unveiled a new website aiming to improving transparency and accountability in state government -- a one-stop shop for Hoosiers keeping tabs on state agencies’ performance.

The state’s previous transparency portal earned Indiana the title of most transparent state government site by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer watchdog organization. 

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Science & Medicine
8:17 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Report: Indiana Improving Its Pain Management Policies

The state still doesn't get an A grade, but it does appear to be improving.
Credit Erich Ferdinand / https://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/142789779

The American Cancer Society says Indiana has improved significantly when it comes to pain management policies.  But a report from the Society’s Cancer Action Network says the state still has more to do.

There are only eight states that received less than a B from the Cancer Action Network in its report on pain management and patient care policies.  Indiana moved this year from a C-plus to a B. 

Network Associate Director David Woodmansee says that’s because of a new step taken by the State Medical Board.

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General News
6:04 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Task Force Says Lawyers' Pro Bono Work Should Be For Free, Not For Credit

The panel says lawyers should do pro bono work because it's worthwhile, not because they're getting some other form of compensation.
Credit Joe Gratz / https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegratz/117048243

A panel investigating Indiana’s pro bono legal system says lawyers shouldn’t be rewarded with continuing education credits for providing free and low-cost legal services to Hoosiers in need.  

Chief Justice Brent Dickson mentioned the need to boost pro bono efforts in his 2013 State of the Judiciary address, his first as Chief Justice. 

In his address this year, he talked about the results of a study that examined civil law cases in the state.

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Government
1:34 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

As State Posts Strong Balance Sheet, Democrats Decry GOP 'Bloodlust' For Tax-cutting

The state has more than $2 billion in its rainy day fund.
Credit Keith Cooper / https://www.flickr.com/photos/cooperweb/8363160192

Despite tax revenues that struggled for much of the fiscal year, Indiana closes its book with a surplus of more than $100 million and reserves topping $2 billion.  But Democrats say the state is hoarding money to make its bottom line look good.

Going into the final month of the fiscal year, Indiana was about $50 million short of expectations.  But a strong June helped the state end the year about $13 million above projected levels. 

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Politics
9:14 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Auditor Race Heats Up As State Closes Out Fiscal '14

Democratic state auditor candidate Michael Claytor says the state should save less and devote some of its existing savings to re-funding cuts made to the state education budget during the recession.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana will close the books today on the fiscal year that ended June 30. State Auditor Suzanne Crouch updates Hoosiers on how the state’s revenues performed. 

But Crouch’s Democratic opponent in this fall’s election is accusing the Pence administration of “cooking the books.”

Indiana tax collections struggled for much of the fiscal year, prompting Pence to cut state agency and university budgets and even sell one of the state planes. 

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Government
4:51 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

State's New Transportation Ventures Could Cost $10 Billion

Some suggestions for INDOT's priority list include new highways in Central and Northwest Indiana and road lanes which automatically recharge batteries of electric cars.
Credit Jimmy Emerson / https://www.flickr.com/photos/auvet/7974506488

A blue ribbon panel studying Indiana’s future transportation needs laid out this week the state’s top road project priorities.  The task now is to figure out how to pay for them.

The panel recommended four priorities for road construction projects – widening I-65 and I-70, building an I-69 Ohio River bridge and creating a commerce connector around Indianapolis. 

The panel did not include specific funding recommendations, though co-chair Cathy Langham says it does suggest developing some sort of user fee system.

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General News
1:11 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Transportation Panel Lists Top Priorities

Credit Uwe Mayer / https://www.flickr.com/photos/intermayer/

A blue ribbon panel Governor Mike Pence assembled to study Indiana’s future transportation needs has identified four top priorities for the state’s road construction projects.

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Government
2:50 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

State Won't Recognize Gay Marriages Issued Last Month

Hundreds of marriages have been invalidated -- at least temporarily -- but there is one union that will be recognized.
Credit Jeton Bajrami / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeton/14334409112

Indiana will not recognize same sex marriages performed between a federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s gay marriage ban and an appeals court order halting that decision. 

Federal judge Richard Young ruled Indiana’s ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional in an order handed down late last month.  Two days later, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of that ruling, halting its effects. 

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