Ann Choi

Intern for KUT News

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Austin
2:30 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Texas Retailers Sue Austin Over Single-Use Bag Ban (Update)

Businesses cannot provide single-use plastic bags starting Friday.
flickr.com/velkr0

Update: Alexandria Bruton, Public Information Specialist with the City of Austin, has issued the following statement on the bags lawsuit: 

“Although the City has not yet been served with the lawsuit, we are familiar with the allegations and we are prepared to defend the ordinance. We stand behind the intent of the ordinance and do not believe it poses a hardship to affected businesses. The City is committed to working with businesses to help them comply with the ordinance and offers a number of resources to make this process as easy as possible.”  

Original post: Austin’s ban on single-use bags starts Friday. But a business group hasn’t stopped fighting against it.

The Texas Retailers Association has filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing the ban is against the state's Health and Safety Code. “We are bringing this suit regarding a state statue that we only fairly recently became aware of, which says no local government may pass an ordinance that prohibits or restricts baggage or containers like plastic bags," association president Ronnie Volkening said. 

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Austin
2:15 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Willie Nelson (or His Statue, At Least) Joins Austin Bag Campaign

Mayor Lee Leffingwell speaking at a press conference kicking off Austin's reusable bag awareness campaign.
Ann Choi, KUT News

Correction: The City of Austin disputes the expense of social media outreach in its reusable bag campaign. See the update below for more. 

Austin’s plastic bag ban goes into effect in eight days, and city officials are pulling in a celebrity endorsement for their campaign: Willie Nelson.

Or, his statue at least. 

"One bag just like the one Willie Nelson is holding literally can replace hundreds … six hundred or so … thin plastic bags that you see today,” city council member Mike Martinez said at a press conference in front of the bronze Nelson statue outside the ACL Live theater downtown.

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Women's Health
3:33 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

New Poll: Texans Support Funding Family Planning Services

The Texas Freedom Network says contrary to lawmakers, Texas voters support family planning services
Ann Choi, KUT News

A new poll finds support for state-funded family planning from Texans across race, religion and party affiliation.

The survey by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund found more than 70 percent of registered Texas voters support family planning funding such as birth control. The finding includes groups thought to be more socially conservative, like Republican women, Hispanics and Catholics.

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The Lead
9:09 am
Thu February 14, 2013

The Lead: Vote on Independent Austin Energy Board, SXSW Film Wristbands on Sale

Some wonder if city council should be tasked with managing a utility the size of Austin Energy
Joy Diaz, KUT News

Happy Valentine's Day! The National Weather Service says Austin is looking to stay sunny with high 60s in this afternoon. 

Lead Story: Austin City Council votes today on a measure that could create an independent board to oversee Austin Energy. The resolution is sponsored by Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Council Member Bill Spelman. 

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Health
8:52 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Another Way to Celebrate Valentine's Day: Learn CPR

When CPR is performed immediately after cardiac arrest occurs, a victim's survival rate can triple.
flickr.com/leppre

If your Valentine goes into cardiac arrest during dinner, Austin-Travis County EMS wants you to know how to help.

Austin-Travis County EMS is hosting free, hands-only CPR training sessions at Barton Creek Square mall from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. 

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Texas
2:24 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Photos: The Chris Kyle Funeral Procession Arrives in Austin (Update)

Supporters outside the Texas State Cemetery waited for Kyle's motorcade to arrive.
Luke Quinton for KUT News

Update: The funeral procession of Chris Kyle arrived in Austin around noon. Crowds of watchers lined  Interstate 35 and the Texas State Cemetery with flags and signs.

The procession was escorted by a motorcade which included 200 motorcycles, motor coaches, police cruisers, military personnel and first responders.

At least two Patriot Guard Riders who were riding ahead of the procession on its way to Austin were involved in an accident near Bell County according to Texas Department of Public Safety officials. They remain hospitalized.

Original Story:
Former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle will be buried in Austin today.

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Austin
12:28 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Problems, Expenses and Delays for Bartholomew Pool

Bartholomew Pool was built in the 1960s.
City of Austin

The City of Austin’s Aquatic Division manages over 50 public pool facilities. The Bartholomew Pool, in particular, has demanded significant time and funding from the city since 2009.

Now, the city says the pool will need even more time and money before it's ready to reopen.

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Education
11:18 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Texas Lawmakers Take Stance on Gays Joining Boy Scouts (Updated)

The Boy Scouts of Amercia, one of the largest private youth organizations in the U.S., has prohibited gays from joining.
flickr.com/imcomkorea

Update: The Boy Scouts of America board delayed its vote on whether to end a ban on gay membership until May. 

Original Story (8:13 a.m.):More than 40 elected officials from across Texas have signed an open letter encouraging the Boy Scouts of America to maintain its current membership policy—which doesn’t allow gay members or scout masters.

Gov. Rick Perry made his stance on the issue clear last weekend. Now, lawmakers including Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Stapes are signing on to show their opposition to a change to the policy. A rally and prayer vigil at the Boy Scouts National headquarters in Irving has also been scheduled for this morning.

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Immigration
4:01 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Rep. Joaquin Castro: A Path to Citizenship is Coming

Texas has the most at stake in the immigration debate, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro said at the TAB conference in Austin.
Ann Choi/KUT News

With immigration reform on the agenda in Washington, U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro of San Antonio predicted today that some sort of path to citizenship will be created for undocumented workers. 

At the annual Texas Association of Business conference today, Castro said the current immigration system creates a second class of people who can never gain citizenship. However, he believes that society's changed views on immigration ultimately will lead to change in policy. 

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University of Texas
1:55 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Powers: 'Smarter Systems' Could Save UT-Austin $490 Million

The Committee says UT lags behind in faculty salaries, graduate student funding, undergraduate scholarships, and facilities amongst other public unviersities.
KUT News

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers says UT could save up to $490 million dollars over a decade by changing its operations system.  

Powers presented the cost-cutting recommendations, "Smarter Systems for a Greater UT "at a press conference today. The recommendation came from a committee of local business leaders Powers put together last April. The committee put forward measures raising the prices of housing, food and parking, outsourcing some parts of UT’s operation and commercializing UT-generated technology.

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Health
7:51 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

UT Offering More Flu Shot Clinics

University Health Service will provide flu shots from 9 a.m. till supplies last.
Lance McCord/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/mccord/

University of Texas at Austin is trying to boost efforts to protect students and staff from catching the flu. The University Health Service Office will provide flu shots Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Students Service Building’s Glenn Maloney Room.   

"Because of the increase in flu cases, huge demand and the telephone calls we were getting about folks wanting flu shots, we scheduled an additional flu shots clinic," Sherry Bell, senior program coordinator for University Health Service said.

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Education
7:35 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Public School Proponents Slam School Voucher Plan

Louis Malfaro, Julie Shields, and Janna Lilly, members of The Coalition for Public Schools, discuss downside of private school voucher system
Ann Choi, KUT news

The political battle over Texas public schools is heating up as the legislative session shifts into gear. In addition to  arguments over whether to restore $5.4 billion cut from public education in 2011, two high profile Senate Republicans want a school voucher system that would give low income students a shot at attending a private school. But critics say all vouchers do is strip money from the public education system and hand it over to private schools.

“We’re going to allow businesses to deduct up to 25 percent of what they would pay in the franchise tax, and that money will go to a non-profit to be distributed to families based on need," State Senator Dan Patrick has explained. "By doing this, we are going to give them an opportunity to get a scholarship if they so choose to send their child to that private school.” So-called "tax credit scholarships" exist in about a dozen states. 

On Thursday, a nonprofit group, the Coalition for Public Schools, argued fiercely against the measure. In a news conference at the Capitol, the Coalition said the State needs to invest more in the existing public school system.

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Family Violence
4:53 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Local Nonprofits Join Forces to Address Family Violence

Two non-profits that deal with family violence are merging into the LIFT Alliance.
liftalliance.org
  • SafePlace and Austin Children's Shelter are coming together to form LIFT Alliance.

 Audio FileSafePlace and Austin Children's Shelter form LIFT AllianceEdit | Remove

Family violence affects more than 18,000 Austin women and children each year. Now two local non-profit groups are joining forces to address the problem.

SafePlace and Austin Children’s Shelter are coming together to form LIFT Alliance. The alliance will allow kids at the Austin Children’s Shelter to attend a school operated by SafePlace. In return, clients at SafePlace can take part in the teen parenting program at the children’s shelter.

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