Veronica Zaragovia

State reporter

Veronica Zaragovia reports on state government for KUT News, and gets to team up with an extraordinary group of KUT journalists on how legislation affects the people of Texas. She's reported as a legislative relief news person with the Associated Press in South Dakota and has worked as a freelancer and intern with  the Agence France Presse, TIME, WDET Detroit public radio and PBS NewsHour, among others. She's dedicated much of her adult life to traveling, learning languages and drinking iced coffee. 

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Mental Health
4:22 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Mental Health Support for Texas Inmates on Lawmakers' Agenda

Texas lawmakers hosted a hearing on April 22, 2014, to look into what else should be done to provide mental health services for inmates at state facilities.
Liang Shi, KUT News

Texas lawmakers are looking into whether more should be done to provide mental health services for inmates at state prisons.

Prison officials say inmates already have access to medication and individual or group counseling for mental illness. Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston says the legislature has provided enough mental health funding in recent years for prisoners and parolees. And, he says, it shows.

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SXSW 2014
11:54 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Austin Police File More Charges Against SXSW Crash Suspect

A "ghost bike" is included in a makeshift memorial outside the Mohawk in this photo from March 17.
Credit Andrew Huygen for KUT News

The Austin Police Department has filed four more charges against the suspect accused of killing four people and injuring more than 20 people in downtown Austin on March 13

Roger Wade with the Travis County Sheriff's Office confirms that 21-year-old Rashad Charjuan Owens now has 25 aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges filed against him as of April 17. He's also been charged with capital murder.

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Abortion
4:14 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Abortion Doctors File Lawsuit Against Dallas Hospital For Revoking Privileges

Two Texas doctors have filed a lawsuit against University General Hospital Dallas for revoking their admitting privileges.
Nathan Bernier, KUT

Two Texas doctors that offer abortions are challenging a hospital for revoking their admitting privileges.

Read the petition here.

In a letter, University General Hospital Dallas says granting admitting privileges to doctors who perform abortions would be disruptive to the hospital’s reputation.

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Abortion
1:59 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Federal Judge Expects Texas Abortion Lawsuit to Reach Supreme Court

A lawsuit challenging a requirement that Texas abortion doctors receive admitting privileges at nearby hospitals is moving forward, but only as it applies to certain doctors in El Paso and McAllen.
Spencer Selvidge for KUT News

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Austin turned down a request to temporarily block a requirement of Texas' controversial new abortion law for clinics in El Paso and McAllen. But the judge is allowing the lawsuit to move forward – and predicts it will ultimately travel all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Mental Health
1:13 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Fighting Stigma of Mental Illness Goal of New Texas Nonprofit

Despite money put towards mental health care in Texas last legislative session, Texas ranks near the bottom in spending per capita on mental health. A new mental health policy nonprofit in Texas will work to identify ways to improve access to services.
Liang Shi for KUT News

Improving mental health practices for Texas and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness is the goal of a new statewide institute. Its focus will be on children, veterans and criminal justice policies.

The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute opened its doors today. Tom Luce, its chief executive officer, says the nonprofit will do research to improve access to mental health care in Texas – and not just after emergencies like the recent Fort Hood shooting.

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HB2
3:07 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Abortion Rights Groups Ask Appeals Court to Reverse Ruling on Texas Law

Abortion rights advocates filed a petition on April 10, 2014, asking the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider whether it’s constitutional to require abortion doctors to receive admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Daniel Reese, KUT News

Abortion rights advocates have filed a petition asking a federal appeals court to reconsider its stance on a part of Texas' new abortion law.

The groups that filed the petition include the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights. They’re asking the full Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider whether it’s constitutional to require abortion doctors to receive admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics.

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Education
5:49 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Update on Mexican-American Studies Course in Texas Public Schools

Supporters of a statewide standard for teaching Mexican-American studies in Texas spoke before a hearing of the State Board of Education on April 8, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Update: High schools in Texas are one step closer to getting state-funded materials to teach courses in Mexican-American studies after a vote today by the Texas State Board of Education. 

Board members voted to ask publishers to develop textbooks for Mexican-American studies, along with three other social studies courses: African-American, Asian-American and Native-American studies. But the board stopped short of developing a statewide course on the topics. A final vote is scheduled for later this week.

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Health
8:34 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Illegal Silicone Butt Injections Are Happening in South Texas

Elva Navarro, owner of the Bella Spa in McAllen, Texas, was arrested on March 19 after she allegedly gave her clients injections of liquid silicone, which are not approved by the FDA.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

A few weeks ago officials arrested a spa owner in the Rio Grande Valley for allegedly giving clients injections of liquid silicone – a procedure which is not approved by the FDA.

The injections were allegedly sold as sort of quick plastic surgery: buttocks enhancements. 

No one knows yet how many women in the Rio Grande Valley have gotten the illegal silicone injections. Investigators say the procedures have led to lengthy hospitalizations.

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Texas Abortion Law
6:18 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Abortion Rights Advocates File Second Federal Lawsuit Against Texas Law

Hundreds of demonstrators rallied inside the Texas Capitol on July 12, 2013, as the Texas Senate approved new abortion restrictions. Abortion rights advocates have filed a new lawsuit challenging provisions of the law.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for KUT News

A new federal lawsuit is challenging provisions of Texas' newest abortion law. This latest suit comes less than a week after a federal appeals court ruled certain provisions of the law were constitutional and could stand.

Abortion rights advocates are seeking an immediate court order that would block the requirement that abortion doctors receive admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of a clinic. But in this lawsuit, the challenge to that provision only applies to two clinics: one in McAllen and one in El Paso.  

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SXSW Crash
4:43 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

SXSW Crash Survivor Hopes To Walk At High School Graduation

South by Southwest crash victim Mason Endres speaks with reporters about her recovery at St. David's Rehabilitation Hospital.
Jon Shapley for KUT News

One of the victims of the car crash into South by Southwest crowds is now in the rehab stage of her recovery. 

Mason Endres can now hop on one leg and push herself in a wheelchair. But she’s still learning to walk again.

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Affordable Care Act
4:22 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Sebelius Blames Texas Opposition for State's Lagging Obamacare Signups

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks in Austin on March 28, 2014, days before the deadline to sign up for health insurance through the federal marketplace.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in Austin today, as part of the final push for people to sign up for health insurance ahead of a Monday deadline. She also came to urge Texas leaders to expand Medicaid eligibility. 

During her comments, Sebelius said although everything is bigger in Texas, having the highest rate of uninsured in the U.S. is nothing to boast about.

To chip away at the roughly 25 percent of Texans without health insurance, Sebelius renewed her call for Texas leaders to expand Medicaid eligibility.  

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Life & Arts
8:38 am
Fri March 28, 2014

App Teams Up with César Chávez Film to Tap Into Huge Hispanic Market

Pantelion Films

Update:

A version of the story below by KUT's Veronica Zaragovia aired on WBUR's Here & Now today. Listen to the story here.

Original story:

An English-language film about civil rights activist César Chávez is out in theaters today. It’s out at the same time as a smartphone app that translates the movie into Spanish in real time.

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Affordable Care Act
8:01 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Ahead of Obamacare Deadline, Austin Nonprofit Rushes to Help Last Minute Sign-Ups

Elizabeth Colvin of Insure Central Texas helps Obamacare consumers at the Foundation Communities Highland Mall center on March 27, 2014.
KUT

The White House says it’s reached its goal of getting six million people signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace.

But so far, only a fraction of the uninsured in Texas has signed up.

A March 31 deadline looms to at least begin an application for health insurance. Most without insurance after the deadline will have to pay a tax penalty. To help people avoid that, nonprofits in Austin are keeping their doors open late to help last-minute customers.

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Affordable Care Act
8:56 am
Thu March 20, 2014

While Obamacare Signups Lag in Texas, Travis County Keeps Up Momentum

A field organizer with Insure Central Texas speaks to staff at an Austin tattoo parlor in the last few days before the March 31 deadline to sign up for health insurance.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Less than two weeks remain for people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Local groups are ramping up their efforts to remind people it's time to sign up or pay a tax penalty. And with little time left, groups working to sign people up for health insurance are branching out to find every last person they can.

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Aging in Texas
8:52 am
Mon March 17, 2014

South Texas Has Dozens of Adult Day Centers - and Austin Has Just One

At Mi Casa Adult Day Care Center in Mission, Texas, seniors and people with disabilities avoid spending the day home alone.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Seniors in the Rio Grande Valley’s Hidalgo County have dozens of day care centers to choose from – places that help keep seniors from spending the day home alone.

Centers like Mi Casa Adult Day Care in Mission, Texas – not far from McAllen – dot many street corners here in this part of the Rio Grande Valley. They offer rides to see the doctor, to pay bills or to pick up a social security check.

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