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.


3:23 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Lubbers Builds On Congressional Testimony With '15 To Finish' Program

Purdue University junior Sarah Correll spoke in favor of the program at its roll-out Monday.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education wants to help college students finish their degrees on time, unveiling Monday its ’15 to Finish’ campaign. 

Tthe initiative is a coordinated, statewide effort to inform students, parents, and advisors about the importance of taking 15 credit hours per semester.

Only 30-percent of Hoosiers complete a bachelor’s degree on time.  And an extra year of college costs an average of $50,000 . 

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12:19 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

State Senator's Wife To Seek His Seat While He's Deployed

State Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) has been called up to active duty by his U.S. Naval Reserve unit.
Credit Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Amanda Banks announced Thursday she’ll seek to keep her husband Jim’s state Senate seat in the family when he’s deployed to Afghanistan this fall. 

Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) announced earlier this month that, starting in September, he'll be deployed to Afghanistan in his role as a Naval Reserve Officer. 

Banks is unopposed in November’s election and the seven month deployment means he will miss the entire 2015 legislative session. 

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6:02 am
Fri July 25, 2014

State Halts Healthy Indiana Plan Enrollment

The state will still process pending enrollments, but won't take new customers for the time being.
Credit Kreg Steppe /

Indiana is cutting off enrollment in the Healthy Indiana Plan after the program reached this year’s funding limit.

When the federal government reauthorized HIP, the health insurance program for low-income Hoosiers, last year, it required Indiana to lower the income eligibility ceiling from 200-percent of poverty – about $47,000 a year for a family of four – to 100-percent – roughly $23,000 dollars a year. 

The state pays for the program through the tobacco tax, limiting its size to a monthly average of 45,000 people. 

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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 /

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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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.

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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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 /

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 /

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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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 /

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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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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