Ben Philpott

Senior Reporter, State Politics and Policy

Ben Philpott covers politics and policy for KUT. He’s also co-host of The Ticket 2016, a podcast produced by KUT and the Texas Tribune covering the presidential election. Ben has been covering state politics and dozens of other topics for the station since 2002. He's been recognized for outstanding radio journalism by the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters and has been named Radio Journalist of the Year by the Houston Press club four times.

Before moving to Texas, he worked in public radio in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and at several television stations in Alabama and Tennessee. Born in New York City and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., Philpott graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in broadcast journalism.

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Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

The legal case against Rick Perry was back in court Wednesday. The hearing before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals could decide what, if any, charges remain against the former Texas governor.

Gage Skidmore/Texas Tribune

State officials including Governor Greg Abbott continue to push the federal government to stop allowing Syrian refugees in to the country. Some are also trying to figure out how Texas can keep those refugees out of the state.

Image via Flickr/IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Gov. Greg Abbott has directed the Texas Health & Human Services Commission's Refugee Resettlement Program to not help place Syrian refugees in the state. No one is questioning his ability to block that state program from working with Syrian refugees. But does his power extend to the non-profits that are using federal money to help resettle refugees in Texas?

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Both public and private colleges in Texas are in the process of deciding how to implement a new law that allows licensed gun owners to bring their handguns on to campuses. Two schools – Texas Christian University and Texas State University – have recently taken up implementing the law before it goes into effect in August 2016.

Screenshot via Fox Business Network

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is promising to eliminate five federal agencies if elected President. That’s a pledge he made in Tuesday night's debate. Shrinking government by closing agencies has been a common refrain among Republican candidates, but in reality, it's really not that easy.

Gage Skidmore/flickr

This week on the The Ticket 2016: Two of the big winners from last week's GOP debate were Ted Cruz and Chris Christie. Both made waves by attacking the media, and both drew rave reviews for talking tough and being forceful during the debate. What does that mean for the two campaigns? I'll join New Jersey Public Radio's Matt Katz and David Furst from WNYC to talk about Cruz and Christie.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Today is Election Day. Let’s quickly run down the voter prep list. First: Figure out what’s on the ballot. Then: Find a place to vote. Remember you can vote at any polling place in Travis County on Election Day. Finally, remember to bring some sort of identification.

Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

This week on The Ticket: In 2008, POLITICO and Huffington Post took center stage in the presidential race. In 2012, we saw the rise of BuzzFeed. In 2016, some think this will be the year of Snapchat. To explain what election coverage on Snapchat means, The Texas Tribune’s Jay Root and KUT’s Ben Philpott talk with Peter Hamby, Head of News at Snapchat.

Image by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Early voting starts today for the Nov. 3 election, and over the past few weeks, we’ve been taking a closer look at each of the seven proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution on the statewide ballot.
We wrap up today with Proposition 7, which, if you drive a car or commute to work on Texas roads, might be the most important proposition on the ballot.


The Texas Constitutional propositions up for a vote on Nov. 3 tend to come in a few different flavors. Some want to change the current constitution to allow something previously blocked. Some are needed to allow a new way for state tax dollars to be used. And some are just added to keep future state lawmakers from passing laws for or against something — that's where Proposition 6 falls.

KUT News

Constitutional elections in Texas don't draw many voters. Over the last three elections, no more than 8 percent of registered voters have gone to the polls, and typically, it’s propositions like this cycle's Proposition 5, a statewide vote on constitutionally mandated population limits for road funding, that might keep people away.

Bernie Sanders for President Website

This week on The Ticket: Bernie Sanders has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2016 Presidential campaign. But those who know the Vermont Senator’s history aren’t surprised at all. The Texas Tribune's Jay Root and KUT's Ben Philpott will go back in time to hear from Burlington Vermont Mayor Bernie Sanders. The two will also talk with UT-Austin pollster Jim Henson about what’s behind the Sanders Surge.  And we’ll hear a report on how the closure of several driver licenses offices could affect minority voter turnout in Alabama.


Today, the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros kick off their series in the American League divisional playoffs.

Any other year, that would have nothing to do with the Texas Constitution, but this year’s different. While the teams are on opposite sides of the diamond, this legislative session both teams joined sides for a common goal: charitable raffles.

Those raffles are the subject of one of the seven Constitutional propositions on this November's ballot.

Pu Ying-Huang/KUT News

The University of Texas at Austin held its second and final public forum on how the school should implement a new state law that will allow concealed handgun license holders to bring their weapon onto college campuses. But, while efforts to allow weapons on campus has come to prominence in recent years, the push in Texas began over 20 years ago after a mass shooting in Killeen.

Liang Shi/KUT News

The third of seven propositions on the Texas ballot this Election Day would change the requirement for some statewide elected officials to live in Austin.

Prop 3’s passage would mean the governor would be required to live in the Governor's Mansion, but the rest of the statewide elected officials would have the option of living outside of Austin. Though, it's likely they would still have a place around Austin so they can get to their Texas Capitol offices quickly.

Timothy D. Easley/AP

This week on The Ticket: The Texas Tribune's Jay Root and KUT's Ben Philpott look at the role religion is playing in the 2016 presidential race. They talk with Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches on how religion is being used in the GOP Primary.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

We're just over a month away from Election Day in Texas and, while it's an election not everyone even knows is coming up, there are seven statewide constitutional amendments are on the ballot. Of those seven, Proposition 2 seeks to retroactively amend a state law allowing veterans’ spouses to collect benefits.

KUT News

The new City of Austin budget includes money for the Austin Police Department to outfit its officers with body cameras. The City Council Public Safety committee held a meeting last night to begin figuring out the best ways to use those cameras.

KUT News

While the presidential election is getting a lot of headlines, that’s not until next year. But one of the seven amendments to the state constitution on the ballot this November could raise the state's homestead exemption and lighten the property tax load for Texas homeowners.

Josh Denmark/Texas Tribune

This week on The Ticket: The Texas Tribune's Jay Root and KUT's Ben Philpott tackle immigration policy. The topic had a moment in the spotlight at the second GOP debate, but Republicans are divided on how to handle the millions of people living in the U.S. who crossed into the country illegally.