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.

Ways to Connect

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is calling on the General Assembly to get a human trafficking bill passed in time for the Super Bowl, February 5. 

A bill closing gaps in Indiana’s human trafficking laws has been on a fast track through the Assembly.  The Senate passed it unanimously, but it’s been held up by unrest in the House.  Now, with Super Bowl festivities arriving in Indianapolis, Zoeller is urging the legislature to act quickly.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And let's go next to my home state of Indiana, where state lawmakers now look certain to pass controversial right-to-work legislation.

Democrats have been trying to block that bill. But yesterday it passed the state's Republican-controlled House. And so Indiana is poised to become the first state to approve this kind of legislation in a decade.

We have more from Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting.

A bill passed by a state senate committee would tell doctors how to administer medications they use to perform abortions. However, some doctors disagree with the legislatively-prescribed protocol.

The bill mandates that drugs used in so-called chemical abortions be administered according to Food and Drug Administration guidelines only.  But some physicians say they prefer using evidence-based, off-label practices, while the F.D.A. protocol requires a dose three times higher than those doctors prefer using.

An amendment by House Democrats to place Right to Work on a statewide referendum has been redrafted and filed, but Democrats remained off the floor Friday.

An initial referendum amendment was thought by legislative attorneys to be unconstitutional.  Democrats then vacated the floor all this week to redraft it.

Friday morning Minority Leader Pat Bauer said he wanted assurances from the Republicans that they believe the new amendment passes constitutional muster.  But Speaker Brian Bosma will only promise to hear, debate and vote on the amendment.

A state senator wants to raise the level of surplus needed before triggering a tax refund. The refund mechanism was put in place last year.

If the state’s budget surplus surpasses 10% of the total budget, the taxpayer refund kicks in.  When the surplus is calculated at the end of the fiscal year in June, projections say it will be at least $300 million more than the 10% level, disbursing a refund of about $50 per taxpayer.

State Senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) says he wants to raise the threshold to be on the safe side.

House Speaker Brian Bosma and Minority Leader Pat Bauer have struck an agreement to keep a Right to Work bill off the floor until next week in an effort to keep Democrats in the chamber. 

Democrats left the floor Tuesday, protesting a House committee meeting on Right to Work.  Bosma says after reviewing video of the meeting, he felt it was not “democracy’s finest hour,” but says he saw nothing against the House rules.  After meeting with Bauer Wednesday, Bosma announced Right to Work would not come before the full House for amendments until next Tuesday.

Right to Work passed a House committee today, but not without controversy.

The House Labor Committee voted along party lines to send the Right to Work bill to the floor. 

Right to Work legislation bans union contracts requiring that non-union employees pay fees for representation.

Democrats tried to offer amendments and allow testimony on the bill, but were overruled. 

Chairman Doug Gutwein explained that last Friday’s joint committee hearing took care of testimony, and said amendments had not been filed in time. 

For the third day in a row, Democrats prevented the House from doing business by staying off the floor. 

The holdout is over Right to Work legislation, which bans union contracts from requiring non-union employees pay fees for representation.  With their third consecutive day of absence, House Democrats could now be fined up to one thousand dollars each day under an anti-bolting statute passed last session.  Speaker Brian Bosma says he hasn’t taken the necessary legal step to level the fines yet.

Right to Work took its first step towards passage Friday as a committee passed it to the Senate floor. 

A joint House and Senate committee met for more than five hours, hearing testimony on both sides of the controversial issue.  Right to Work legislation bans union contracts that require non-union employees pay fees for representation.

State Senator Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury), the bill’s sponsor, says the issue boils down to whether Right to Work is good for Indiana

Legislators are hoping a statewide smoking ban will finally get through the Indiana Senate by limiting exceptions to the rule in the 2012 version of the bill.

Only three entities would be exempt from the smoking ban: gaming floors; cigar or hookah bars currently in existence; and existing social clubs whose membership votes every two years to allow smoking. A statewide smoking ban has been passed out of the Indiana House for five consecutive years only to fail in the Senate. 

Indiana Democrats failed to show for the House of Representatives session that was called at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Republicans were in attendance, but Democrats were in caucus on the third floor of the statehouse, which began around noon.

House Democratic leader Pat Bauer said at a press conference Democrats will not attend session until they have assurances that right to work legislation will not be “railroaded” through the legislature. Bauer says the public needs time to give their input and to be educated on the issue.

State of Indiana

A Marion County judge will decide by Wednesday morning if Charlie White will remain Indiana secretary of state. 

Attorneys for Charlie White and the Indiana Recount Commission requested Judge Louis Rosenberg stay his ruling that White was ineligible to run for office - a move that would make Democrat Vop Osili, the runner-up in the election, the new secretary of state.

White’s attorney David Brooks says the ruling should be frozen until a higher court, likely the state Supreme Court, can issue its own decision.

 

A Marion County judge ruled Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was ineligible to run in last year’s election.

Judge Louis Rosenberg found evidence that White was not living at his 
stated address when he filed to run for office.

White defeated Democrat Vop Osili in the General Election.

The court decision now sends the case back to the Indiana Recount Commission, which previously ruled White was an eligible candidate.

Roughly 90% of state employees will be getting a pay increase in 2012.  Pay increases will range from 2-6% based on performance evaluations.

In 2009 and 2010, state employees didn’t receive a raise due to economic belt-tightening in state government.  At the beginning of 2011, they received an average increase of a little more than one percent.

Governor Mitch Daniels says the legislature budgeted for this year’s raises and they had nothing to do with recent revenue forecasts that showed an improving economy.

With the Super Bowl less than two months away, a bill to close gaps in Indiana’s human trafficking statute is on a fast track.

Attorneys general across the country have focused their attention on human trafficking in the last several months.  And Governor Mitch Daniels says the presence of the Super Bowl shines a spotlight on Indiana.

“The single worst location and occurrence for this exploitation is the Super Bowl.”

Pages