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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Greg Wagoner / https://www.flickr.com/photos/minidriver/

Hoosier teenagers who take driver’s education classes will be able to get their license a little sooner under legislation set to take effect in July.

The bill’s author hopes the change will incentivize more young people to go take driver training courses.

Under current law, teens who don’t take driver’s ed can get their license at 16 years, nine months old, while teens who do take driver’s ed can get their license three months earlier, at 16 and a half.

Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana’s Republican Party chairman Monday announced Governor Mike Pence will make a bid for a second term. 

A Pence run for reelection wasn’t always considered a lock as the Hoosier governor had been mentioned – sometimes prominently – as a 2016 presidential contender. 

But in the wake of controversy surrounding what was perceived as the creation of a state news agency along with backlash from the religious freedom act, talk of a run for national office all but disappeared. 

Marty Stone / https://www.flickr.com/photos/martystone/7024090795

A new U.S. Supreme Court opinion that could have an impact on Indiana rules that Maryland is essentially double-taxing residents who earn out-of-state income.  But the impact on the Hoosier State would likely be minimal.

If Maryland residents pay income taxes to other states and counties outside of Maryland, they can take a credit against their state tax, but not their local county tax. 

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Attorney General Greg Zoeller is launching a new division within his office aimed at boosting services for victims of violent and sexual crimes. 

Indiana’s hundreds of victim advocates currently operate separately across the state in shelters, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors’ offices and hospitals. 

The Attorney General’s new Victim Services and Outreach Division will launch the Victim Advocates’ Network to coordinate information and training.  Zoeller says the network will link up various advocacy efforts.

Devon Christopher Adams / https://www.flickr.com/photos/nooccar

Governor Mike Pence says despite his reservations, he’ll let a bill imposing a three-year moratorium on new nursing homes become law. The moratorium will take effect without the governor’s signature.

Indiana’s nursing homes have a 77 percent occupancy rate, well below the national average. And only three states devote a greater percentage of Medicare long-term dollars to nursing homes.

Brandon Smith / indianapublicmedia.org/news

The Republican primary for outgoing Senator Dan Coats’ seat is shaping up to be a battle between the GOP establishment and more hard-line ideological conservatives.  On Saturday, 3rd District Congressman Marlin Stutzman announced his bid for the seat.

Brandon Smith / http://indianapublicmedia.org/news/

Indiana’s new budget is officially law as Gov. Mike Pence signed it Thursday.

Pence hails the state’s two-year, $31 billion spending plan as something “every Hoosier can be proud of.”

The governor signed the budget in front of a sea of students at an elementary school in Lebanon, Ind., highlighting the largest funding increase for K–12 schools in state history.

Yet at 2.3 percent growth each year, that increase only keeps pace with inflation. Still, Pence calls it a historic achievement.

SeniorLiving.org / https://www.flickr.com/photos/89228431@N06/

Indiana tax collections surged in April after struggling through much of the last year, and the state now sits comfortably ahead of projections heading into the last two months of the fiscal calendar.

Coming into April, tax collections had only exceeded expectations twice in the first nine months of the fiscal year.

But revenues rose in April — more than $168 million dollars more than expected. That puts the state about $192 million dollars ahead of projections for the fiscal year.

Ken Walton / https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenwalton/15726458855/

The common construction wage is a kind of minimum wage for construction workers on public projects.  The wage is set for each project by a local board.  In a statement announcing he signed the bill repealing the common wage, Governor Pence says wages should be set by the marketplace, not government bureaucracy. 

He says repealing the system puts taxpayers first.  But opponents of the repeal say ending the common wage will create more economic disparity, driving more public projects into the hands of out-of-state workers.

Indiana Department of Administration

Governor Pence says the Indiana Economic Development Corporation has spent months traveling around the country, talking to leaders in areas that adopted a regional economic development approach.  And he says the IEDC will be spreading the lessons learned from those talks across Indiana as the Regional Cities Initiative is rolled out. 

While the program will force regions to compete for relatively limited dollars, Pence says his hope is that it also helps end some competition:

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