Andrew Weber

Web Producer

Andrew Weber is a web producer 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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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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Austin
4:35 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

SXSW Transplants: Coming for the Tech, Staying for the Weird

A couple SXSW participants relax outside the Austin Convention Center. SXSW Interactive registration skyrocketed again this year.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Another South by Southwest has come and gone – and in its wake comes the inevitable cry from some local natives: “Don’t move here.”

Pulling up the drawbridge on SXSW visitors isn’t anything new: back in 1997, one local band minted t-shirts telling folks they could go back home when the music’s over. But as SXSW Interactive continues its explosive growth – with a 25 percent surge this year and over 30,000 attendees – it attracts a different set of attendees than music-loving spring breakers. And some of those attendees may not be going back.

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Affordable Housing
1:58 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

A Minimum Wage Job in Austin Gets You a Two-Bedroom Apt. – And a 111-Hour Work Week

In order for housing to be considered affordable, it shouldn’t cost tenants more than 30 percent of their income.
flickr.com/milestonemanagement

Austin has the highest average rent in the state of Texas. And Austinites trying to afford housing on minimum wage need to work close to three full-time jobs.

That’s according to a new study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The non-profit looked at the average fair market rent for Austin apartments and calculated how many hours minimum wage workers need to work so their rent is affordable – meaning it’s no more than 30 percent of their earnings.

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SXSW
2:47 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

From Doritos to Playtex to the Fader Fort, the SXSW Question Is: What Brand Are You? (Update)

A pedicabber moves SXSW Interactive passengers with his Oreo-branded cab.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: With South by Southwest Music in full swing, throngs of music fans have descended upon Austin. And that gives marketers more crowds to pitch their products and experiences to.

"The whole experience is more like social media,” says GSD&M’s Matthew Childs. "It’s not to actually sell something. It’s to get people talking about you, to position your brand with the Venturi effect of the community at South By. If you’re inauthentic to the community, you’re going to get called out pretty quickly."

Companies attempting to ingratiate themselves to the SXSW community have been on display all week: everything from the edgy (like HBO’s Game of Thrones pedicabs) to the decidedly less so (brands like Oreo and Cap’n Crunch advertising at SXSW Interactive).

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Religion
5:39 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

New Pope Francis a Mystery for Many Austinites

Area Catholics will be learning more about Pope Francis in coming days.
courtesy flickr.com/postmoderngirl/

The eyes of much of the world were on the Vatican this afternoon for the announcement that a new pope had been elected.

Pope Francis of Argentina is the first pope from the Americas. Here in Austin, Bishop Joe Vasquez says that origin suggests someone with a perspective popes of the past have not had.

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2013 Legislative Sesssion
4:35 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Should Pols Running for Higher Office Pay Their Own Security?

A Michigan crowd watches Gov. Rick Perry during his presidential campaign. Perry had the state pay for his security as he traveled the country campaigning.
Ben Philpott, KUT News

Future presidential candidates from Texas may have to foot the bill for their own security on the campaign trail.

Gov. Rick Perry’s unsuccessful run at the White House last year cost taxpayers $3.7 million. And state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, said at a House committee meeting today that the cost of non-state-related security is a burden to Texans.

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Science
4:43 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Pan-STARRs Comet Streaks Across Texas Sky Tonight

The Pan-STARRs comet will be visible for the next few days over Central Texas skies
flickr.com/chrissamuel

Tonight is one of a few chances Austinites will have to see a passing comet.

The PAN-STARRS comet, or C/2011 L-4 as it’s known by stargazers, will make its way across the Austin skies around 30 to 40 minutes after sunset tonight – which is at 7:37 p.m, according to the National Weather Service.

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Life in Austin
4:13 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

The (Mis)Pronunciations That Keep Austin Weird

Public art on Guadalupe Street, pronounced "Gwad-A-Loop" by countless generations of Austinities.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Sure – Austin’s weird.

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SXSW
11:59 am
Tue March 12, 2013

The RSVP Economy: SXSW, Marketing and Your Email

SXSW 2012 attendees lined up to get into a unofficial, RSVP-required party. RSVP services will now automatically register customers for dozens of parties.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

If you’ve ever attended South by Southwest, then you know: Invitations to private events come fast and furious, and it’s hard to keep on top of them.

That’s where RSVPster comes in. It charges customers 30 to 40 bucks to respond to invitations to unofficial events during the SXSW Interactive and Music conferences. Though it’s the company’s third festival, founder Jennifer Sinski says it’s gotten its fair share of criticism since the service started.

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Austin
3:41 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Could Bergstrom Expressway Be Cure-All for Airport Congestion?

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is asking for community input on the proposed toll road tomorrow night at East Austin College Prep.
Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority

A new expressway between US Highway 183 and Ben White Boulevard could “eliminate” traffic between the two congested roadways.

But it’ll cost you.  

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) hopes to complete the “Bergstrom Expressway” by 2020 – complete with a six-lane toll road, quicker access to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and shared-use paths for walkers and cyclists. But before the transit agency puts work boots on the ground, they want your opinion.

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Austin
9:28 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Austin Amps Up Giving: Non-Profits Net $2.8 Million

The Capital Area Food Bank is one of over 300 non-profits participating in Amplify Austin.
KUT News

Update: Amplify Austin ended its 24-hour fund drive with nearly $2.8 million in donations. 

Original Post (2:48 p.m.): Non-profit funding initiative Amplify Austin doubled its initial goal of raising $1 million in 24 hours – with time to spare.

Donations to more than 300 non-profits in Austin passed the seven-figure mark around 9 a.m., with the amount still climbing as the donation drive rolls on.

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Health
2:02 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Senators’ Diagnosis: State Health Head Janek Fit to Lead

The Senate Nominations committee met today to confirm Dr. Kyle Janek as head of the Department of State Health Services.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate's Nominations committee confirmed Gov. Rick Perry’s appointment of Dr. Kyle Janek as the head of the state’s largest healthcare service provider for low-income and aging Texans – the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Janek spoke to Sen. Jane Nelson about the future of funding and providing Medicaid services for Texans, asserting that the state should take a more streamlined approach to providing and funding healthcare.

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