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.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

A state representative wants to lower the age limit to serve in the Indiana House and Senate to 18 years old.

The state constitution sets the age limit to serve in the Indiana Senate at 25 years old, 21 years old for the House. A constitutional amendment proposed by Rep. Chris Chyung (D-Dyer) would change the limits to 18.

Megan Stoner is a Republican activist who’s been working on this issue for a few years.

“When we have more young Hoosiers as elected officials, we will have fresh ideas, a young Hoosier spirit embodied within the Statehouse,” Stoner says.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Does removing a GPS tracker from your car – even if police put it there – mean you stole it?

That’s what the state argued in a case heard Thursday by the Indiana Supreme Court.

Warrick County Sheriff’s officers got a warrant last year to put a GPS tracker on Derek Heuring’s car because they thought he was a drug dealer. After a while, the tracker stopped transmitting. And when police went to replace it, they couldn’t find it on the car.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Both Republicans and Democrats had something to tout after Indiana’s 2019 municipal elections.

Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics director Andrew Downs says both political parties could “spin” results in their favor. Republicans, he says, can point to victories in mayor’s races across the state – the GOP captured 70 such seats, the most ever.

“And that’s good because theoretically volunteers and money follow those victories,” Downs says.

ITB495/Flickr

State lawmakers are exploring the use of cameras to catch speeding motorists in highway construction zones.

Efforts in recent years to legalize their use haven’t gotten far in the General Assembly. That’s as Indiana highway work zone crashes doubled in the last six years, heading into 2019.

Daniel Brown leads Indiana Constructors Inc., a trade association for road construction companies. He says speed cameras have reduced speeding and crashes in other states.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

The passage rate for the state’s bar exam continues to struggle, with only about 60 percent of prospective attorneys making the grade.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson wants to reassure Hoosiers that their votes will be secure when they go to the polls.

Arizona and Illinois had their voter registration systems breached in 2016, putting states across the country on alert, including Indiana. Connie Lawson says the state has invested in detection and prevention systems. She says a private cybersecurity firm will monitor attempts to infiltrate state voter databases – scans, she says, that happen all the time.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

Secretary of State Connie Lawson says Indiana legislators wouldn’t provide funding for election security measures at the level she wanted.

Still, Lawson says Hoosiers should have confidence their votes are secure.

About two-thirds of Indiana counties use electronic voting machines that experts say should include paper audit trails. The General Assembly this year appropriated $10 million in the new state budget for election security, which will pay to add those paper trails to just 10 percent of the machines that need them by next year.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

There are new allegations from the women suing Attorney General Curtis Hill and the state over accusations Hill groped them last year.

Three legislative staffers – Samantha Lozano, Gabrielle McLemore, and Niki DaSilva – and Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster) sued Curtis Hill and the state earlier this year. They level allegations of sexual harassment and employment retaliation.

A new filing in that case claims Lozano reported “unwelcome and inappropriate advances” by a male member of the General Assembly to the House Democratic chief of staff this past spring.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) became the first Democrat to announce a 2020 bid for Attorney General Wednesday.

Democrats are hoping to win a race for the office for the first time in more than two decades.

Tallian, an attorney, has served in the Indiana Senate since 2005. She’s been a leader in her caucus on foreclosure and pension issues. And she’s perhaps best known by many as the General Assembly’s fiercest advocate for marijuana legalization.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

Family members of older Hoosiers who they say have been taken advantage of urged lawmakers to better protect seniors.

Lawmakers took testimony on the issue Monday in a legislative study commission. They heard stories of adult children who’d stolen from their older parents and used the power of attorney they’d been given to restrict other family members’ access to those parents.

Rebecca Pryor works with a state task force on adult guardianships. She recommends court monitoring of adult guardians.

File Photo: Brandon Smith/IPB News

Indiana House and Senate Republican leadership want to insert themselves into a federal lawsuit against Attorney General Curtis Hill and the state.

The lawsuit involves Hill’s alleged groping last year of a state lawmaker and three legislative staffers.

The four women filed the suit earlier this year. They accuse Curtis Hill of sexual harassment and battery – and they accuse the state of employment discrimination. That includes sexist or inappropriate comments allegedly made by lawmakers of both parties.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg issued a generational call to arms Thursday as he addressed the Young Democrats of America’s national convention.

It was Buttigieg’s first Indianapolis campaign stop since he officially launched his presidential bid.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

Young Democrats say faith in politics is a critical tool in the path forward for their party and the country. That's part of the discussion at the Young Democrats of America national convention in Indianapolis.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Most of the nearly 300 new laws crafted by the General Assembly this year take effect Monday.

That includes a new state spending plan, child welfare measures, scooter regulations and criminal justice matters.

State Budget

The new two-year, $34 billion state budget largely goes into effect July 1. The majority of that is K-12 education, which received a more than $500 million increase. And the Department of Child Services will get a little less money than it’s been working with.

Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate reached a final agreement Tuesday on what will likely be the state’s next two-year budget.

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