Andrew Weber

Freelance reporter

Andrew Weber is a freelance reporter and associate editor for KUT News. A graduate of St. Edward's University with a degree in English, Andrew has previously interned with The Texas Tribune, The Austin American-Statesman and KOOP Radio.

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Austin
11:21 am
Thu April 11, 2013

Has the Austin Backlash Begun?

An ACL fest goer in 2012. Michael Corcoran compares Austin growth to a popular nightclub: “Next thing you know it’s so crowded that it’s not fun anymore.”
Tamir Kalifa for KUT News

Has the afterglow worn off?

The doting South by Southwest masses have slinked back to Williamsburg and Echo Park, doubtless telling tales about this “locals only” barbecue joint called The Salt Lick. But as they stumble out of their Austin-induced atrophy, some might ask the harsh question: Is Austin really that great?

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Texas
1:45 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Five Smaller, Stranger Events That Tapped Texas' Events Trust Fund

The Texas Events Fund draws events to Texas every year, like the American Miniature Horse Association Championship in Fort Worth.
flickr.com/bsterling

Texas’ official motto is “friendship.” And the state’s long drawn on its welcoming ways to attract tourism and convention crowds from all over.

One example of Texas hospitality is its event trust funds: the Major Events Trust Fund and the Events Trust Fund. (And that’s not counting the Motor Sports Events Trust Fund and the Special Events Trust Fund.)

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2013 Legislative Session
2:46 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Texas Senate Considers School 'Voucher' Bills, Despite House Ban (Update)

State Sen. Patrick's bill does not involve funds that would go to the Texas Education Agency.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

UPDATE 5:59 The Senate Committee on Education heard SB 1575 this afternoon from educators and parents supporting the so-called voucher program that would give parents money to move their children from public to private schools. 

The bill’s author Senator Donna Campbell of New Braunfels said that parents and students should have a choice in schooling and claim that failing public schools set back children across the state.

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Texas
1:43 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

At Least 11 Injured in Stabbings at Houston-area Lone Star College

Authorities locked down the Lone Star campus today in Cypress after 11 students were stabbed on campus.
lonestar.edu

Authorities in Cypress, just outside Houston, say at least 11 students at the Lone Star College campus were stabbed this morning at the Cy-Fair campus.

Authorities say they have arrested one man suspected of the attacks and may be searching for another suspect. The school's website says that campus police and the Harris County Sheriff's Department are searching vehicles exiting area parking lots.

So far, 4 victims have been airlifted to a nearby hospital.

Technology
11:23 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Austin is Getting Google Fiber

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell made the official announcement this morning.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

In a hugely anticipated announcement this morning, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell made it official: Google Fiber is coming to Austin.

The ultra-fast Internet service -- offering speeds more than 100 times faster than connections available now -- will "change how we live and how we work in ways we don't even know about yet," said Leffingwell.

Google says its first Fiber customer in Austin will get service sometime in the middle of 2014.

In a hugely anticipated announcement this morning, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell made it official: Google Fiber is coming to Austin.

The ultra-fast Internet service -- offering speeds more than 100 times faster than connections available now -- will "change how we live and how we work in ways we don't even know about yet," said Leffingwell.

Google says its first Fiber customer in Austin will get service sometime in the middle of 2014.

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Guns
2:59 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Gun Show Ban Bill Passes Without a Bang

The Texas Senate passed a bill that would restrict county and city officials' ability to restrict gun sales and gun shows.
flickr.com/disrupsean

Today, all the eyes of Texas are upon the House, which is debating the budget in what is probably one of the busiest (and longest) days for the Texas legislature.

But all that hustle and bustle on the east end of the Capitol isn’t all that’s going on.

A bill that passed today in the Senate targets the Austin City Council and Travis County by proposing limits to a city’s ability to limit gun purchases or ban including gun shows.

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Texas
12:54 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Pecan Pie Named Texas State Pie, Plus 8 More Official State Oddities

Lawmakers proposed that only Texas pecans can be used in pecan pies statewide.
flickr.com/h-bomb

The Texas House of Representatives named pecan pie as the state's official pie on Wednesday.

State Rep. Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown) sponsored the resolution. She's a first-year representative and this was her first bill.

So, despite the simplicity of the topic, other lawmakers gave her a hard time in a sort of rite of passage. They asked for amendments including making it illegal to use chocolate in the recipe and requiring only Texas pecans be used in pecan pies statewide.

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Texas
11:53 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Gov. Perry Offers $100,000 Reward for Information on Kaufman Shootings

Gov. Perry called the recent shootings in Kaufman County "insidious" and offered a reward for any information on those responsible.
KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry is offering a $100,000 reward for information that leads to those responsible for the shootings of Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia.

At a press conference today, Gov. Perry vowed that those responsible would be caught.

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Austin
10:49 am
Wed April 3, 2013

North Lamar DPS Office Vandalized (Updated)

The North Lamar DPS office will be closed until further notice due to a break-in last night.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

UPDATE: The Texas Department of Public safety has arrested the man responsible for breaking into a DPS license office last night.

DPS spokesman Tom Vinger says 40-year-old Kenneth James Vanlue was arrested on charges of criminal mischief and burglary of a building.

“Both charges are felonies. No evidence that sensitive information was compromised. However, there was extensive property damage inside the building," Vinger said.

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Texas
3:45 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Rebranded 'Don't Mess With Texas' Targets Young Litterbugs

The famous "Don't Mess With Texas" campaign underwent a retro makeover to dissuade younger drivers from littering.
dontmesswithtexas.org

The Texas Department of Transportation is reinvigorating its perennial “Don’t Mess with Texas” campaign this year to reduce littering among younger Texans.

A 2009 survey from the agency showed that over half of all “active litterers” in Texas were between the ages of 16 and 34, despite 95 percent levels of campaign awareness across all Texas drivers.

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Austin
5:10 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Grants Would Help Revamp Austin Landmarks

The State Theatre would use a city-funded grant to renovate its iconic sign.
Andrew Weber for KUT News

The Historical Landmark Commission of Austin meets tonight to decide the future of four grants to preserve historical landmarks.

And every project may not get their slice of the $126,000 that’s been requested this year.

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2013 Legislative Sesssion
5:53 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Hearing for Bill That Could Fell Austin's Heritage Tree Ordinance

The Legislature is considering making it harder for Austin to preserve its urban forest.
flickr.com/spoons

Another battle is brewing in the Texas Legislature over local control, this time over trees. The city of Austin’s ability to regulate heritage trees on private land may be in jeopardy.

House Bill 1377 received a hearing in the house Urban Affairs committee yesterday. Dubbed an "Austin bashing" bill by the City Council, HB 1377 would limit a city’s power to regulate and preserve trees by making a uniform law for all Texas cities to follow. 

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2013 Legislature
2:42 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Senate Moves to Block Capitol Complex Developments

The State Senate will soon vote on a bill that would require developers wishing to build in the Capitol Complex to submit a bill in the legislature to gain approval.
Liang Shi for KUT

UPDATE (4/4/13): Senate Bill 507 by State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) passed the Senate unanimously today.

The bill would limit public private partnerships, or P3’s, in the area around the Capitol grounds.  The bill is closely related to SB 894 by State Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston).

Last month Watson even likened his bill to a failsafe for Whitmire’s initial bill in a committee hearing last month. 

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Austin
7:51 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Travis County Commissioners Hope for Property Tax Flexibility

Jillian Schantz Patrick, KUT News

Travis County Commissioners met today and spent a lengthy amount of time discussing a bill that may not see legislative light of day.

HB 3348 from Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, would amend the Texas Constitution to give cities and counties flexibility in setting property tax rates – allowing them to set a tax rate of a specific dollar amount instead of the 20 percent traditionally used for property tax exemptions.  

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Drought
3:10 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

As Drought Persists, Grocery Prices Rise

The effects of drought caused a rise in grocery prices this year, as Texas and other agriculture producing states grapple with dry farming and ranching conditions.
flickr.com/roofless

The cost of groceries in Texas has gone up as a result of drought conditions in Texas and across the country.

A survey from the Texas Farmers Bureau finds that the price of a uniform basket of goods for an average Texas shopper is $46.40, a five and a half percent rise over last fiscal quarter.

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2013 Legislature
5:17 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Should Texas Lawmakers Give Gun Makers a Tax Break?

Despite national controversy surrounding guns, some Texas lawmakers are trying to attract firearms manufacturers to the state.
flickr.com/disrupsean

A bill offering incentives to attract manufacturers of guns, ammo and related hardware to Texas will go to the full Senate for a vote.

SB 1467 would offer tax breakers to firearms makers at a time when other states may shy away from sponsoring the industry and the bill’s author, Senator Craig Estes of Wichita Falls, calls laws that limit firearms manufacturing “unwarranted intrusions.”

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Waller Creek
4:40 pm
Fri March 22, 2013

Photos: Waller Creek Tunnel Project at Waterloo Park

The tunnel will feature a 30 foot deep pool to serve as a "shock absorber" for floodwaters.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

City officials say they're making progress on the Waller Creek Tunnel Project.

Construction crews at Waterloo Park have wrapped up excavating the tunnel and are moving on to building a treatment plant that will help filter floodwaters.

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Austin City Council
5:22 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

City Council Examines Alley Activation & Parking Overload

Seattle developed this concept art when the city began "activating" its alleyways in 2010.
UW Green Futures Lab/Scan Design Foundation/Gehl Architects

The Austin City Council had parking on its mind today. And now Austin is one step closer to eliminating minimum parking requirements for many downtown businesses, and looking at a program could to lessen the number of cars entering downtown. 

Pilot Parking Program

The council heard a briefing on parking program encouraging businesses to reduce car commuting. The program could begin as soon as April, if the council approves a measure next week.

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2013 Legislature
3:24 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Bill Includes Some Misdemeanor Arrests in Criminal DNA Database

Lawmakers could require police to catalog the DNA of all citizens arrested for Class B misdemeanors and above.
flickr.com/home_of_chaos

Texas lawmakers say criminals are leaving more than fingerprints behind at crime scenes.

Today, representatives discussed a bill that would allow police across the state to take swabs of DNA from arrestees accused of a Class B misdemeanor or above. That genetic information would then be archived in a database and the swab would be destroyed.

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Health
8:05 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Austin School Kids Make Average Grade on Obesity Scale; Texas Lawmaker Wants to Shed Program

AISD students ranked just above average in fitness levels in 2012, but the program that calculates the obesity rates in children is the target of a bill in the legislature.
Office of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Austin Independent School District teachers may tell their students they’re special, but numbers never lie. And the numbers say that they’re (just a bit) above average.

Thankfully, that’s not a bad thing.

This interactive map from the office of Comptroller Susan Combs displays the body mass index rates of over 2 million students in public schools across Texas. The measurements are based on statistics from the Fitnessgram, a program which measures the fitness levels of Texas public school students from grades three to 12. And it's also the target of a bill in the state legislature that would end the program.

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