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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Politics
1:32 pm
Sat May 4, 2013

Slew of Concealed Handgun Bills Approved by Texas House

State Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, answers questions from fellow Texas House lawmakers on May 4, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Update: Texas House members voted in favor of several bills Saturday, including House Bill 972. It allows concealed handgun license owners to carry their guns onto college campuses, with restrictions. But whether these measures move on to the Senate, depends on final passage next week.

Though House members spent all day debating bills, they saved the ones on the hot-button issue for last -- bills on concealed handguns.

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Politics
5:00 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Bill Spotlights Medication Given to Texas Minors in Foster Care

A bill in the Texas Legislature aims to monitor the handing out of prescriptions to minors in the Texas foster care system.
Morguefile.com

Texas health agencies report more foster children take psychotropic medication than other children in Medicaid. Experts say foster care youth need it to deal with trauma and mental disorders.

But a bill in the Texas Legislature aims to monitor the handing out of prescriptions to these minors. 

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Politics
5:10 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

CPRIT Supporters Urge TX House Panel to Approve Overhaul Bill

A Texas House panel heard testimony on why CPRIT is vital to Texans.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM

So far this session, lawmakers have berated the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas – or CPRIT -- for its handling of some taxpayer-funded grants.

But today, a House panel heard testimony on why the agency is vital to Texans. 

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Politics
4:06 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

TX Senator Wants Students to Have Right to Keep Guns in Cars

State Sen. Glenn Hegar, far right, responds to questions by State Sen. Brian Birdwell during a floor vote on April 30, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Texas college students are a step closer to being allowed to bring concealed handguns onto campuses.

That's after the state Senate passed a bill today that would let students, as well as faculty and staff, who have concealed carry licenses, to bring firearms onto campus. Guns would not be welcomed, however, inside classrooms or libraries.

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Politics
7:20 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Texas Bill Spotlights Minors Charged With Prostitution

A bill passing through the Texas Legislature would allow juvenile probation departments in Texas to set up programs specifically to treat minors charged with prostitution.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

One Texas senator wants to allow more counties to set up specialty courts for minors charged with prostitution. The aim is to help juveniles forced into sex trafficking. Many of these victims either end up in Texas or travel through the state along major highways. 

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, says the majority of minors involved in prostitution are sex trafficking victims.

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Politics
5:19 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

State Lawmaker Wants Travis County DA to Resign

The House chamber below a mostly empty gallery during the final days of the special session on June 27, 2011.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

A state lawmaker is calling for the resignation of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who’s serving a 45-day sentence in the county jail after pleading guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated.

State Representative Phil King, R-Weatherford, says if Lehmberg doesn’t resign, the state’s Public Integrity Unit should be moved from her office to the Texas Attorney General’s. The unit investigates corruption by lawmakers.

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Education
5:24 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Bill Aims to Limit Testing of Preschoolers, Kindergarteners

A lawmakers says 4- and 5-year-olds already face too many assessment tests.
Shannan Muskop, Texas Tribune

Are Texas 4- and 5-year-olds getting tested too much? State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte think so.

Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, is the author of Senate Bill 1608, which would restrict the bubble-in testing that school districts and the Texas Education Agency could require for pre-K and kindergarten students.

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Politics
4:39 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

TX Senate Bill on College Campus Concealed Carry Dies This Session

A Texas Senate bill that would let students carry concealed handguns on college campuses is not moving forward this legislative session.
Texas Tribune

Story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM

A Texas Senate bill that would let students carry concealed handguns on college campuses is dead this legislative session, with one senator saying it’s time for a “cooling off” period. 

The chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee says he gets why some want to legalize concealed carry on college campuses. Students are doing it illegally, he says.

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Transportation
12:40 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Bill Against Texting While Driving Makes Way to Senate Panel

Kathy Bond of Fort Worth holds a picture of her daughter, Katrina Bond, at the Capitol on April 24, 2013. Katrina Bond died in 2011 from an accident allegedly involving texting while driving.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Yesterday, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute released results of its study that suggests voice-to-text phone apps or voice devices used in the car are as dangerous as texting and driving. 

Today, lawmakers in the Senate Transportation Committee heard testimony related to a bill by State Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, that would make it a statewide offense to text and drive.

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Politics
5:11 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Bill on Texas Solution to Medicaid Expansion Moves Forward

A bill approved today by a Texas House committee would help insure the roughly 6 million Texas residents who don’t have coverage.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

A bill approved today by a Texas House committee would help insure the roughly 6 million Texas residents who don’t have coverage, but not in the way envisioned by the federal Affordable Care Act.

State Rep.  John Zerwas, R-Simonton, says his bill is what he calls a “Texas” solution to the health insurance gap. He adamantly says he’s not for Medicaid expansion.

"To put a million and a half people into the current Medicaid program and expect we’re going to be able to serve those people with a very fragile provider network is just totally wrong," Zerwas said.

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Politics
11:59 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Texas Lawmakers Push for Exoneration Commission Bill

Billy Smith of Dallas, an exoneree, speaks in favor of HB 166 on April 22, 2013 at the Capitol.
Veronica Zaragovia

On Tuesday, the Texas House will vote on HB 166, a bill that would create the Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission.

This so-called innocence commission would investigate past exoneration cases to find out why the wrongful conviction happened in the first place. The group would not intervene in pending cases or open cases without an exoneration. 

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Politics
7:12 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Weak TX Drug Court Oversight Worries Lawmakers, Advocates

Texas lawmakers are weighing a bill on regulation of specialty courts in the state.
morguefile.com

Texas lawmakers may shore up a little-known system of courts, called specialty courts.  Voices on both the left and the right are saying that these courts are working — benefiting the state despite being underfunded, uncounted and, at the state level, unmanaged. 

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Texas
6:29 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Austin Runners Lace Up Sneakers for Boston Marathon Victims

Friends Erin McGann and Bonnie Yesian embrace at a candlelight vigil for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Bonnie ran the marathon and was not far from the finish line when the bombs went off.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Though most of the hundreds of people who turned out regularly go running with their groups, Thursday night’s event was different.

Participants and organizers say at least 600 people RSVP’d on Facebook. Scores of neon-dressed participants gathered at around 8 p.m. in the parking lot near Austin High School on Cesar Chavez.

Some wore their marathon jackets and numbers. Many people hugged, held hands, waved across the parking lot to one another and several wiped away tears.

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Politics
7:56 am
Thu April 18, 2013

Bill on Solitary Confinement Study Approved by Texas Senate Panel

Christopher Scott of Dallas spent about a year in solitary confinement during nearly 13 years in prison. He's since been exonerated.
Veronica Zaragovia

More than 5 percent of the total prison population in Texas is in solitary confinement. That’ s compared to about 2 percent nationally.

But one Texas Senator says too little is known about the conditions of these prisoners, especially those who may have been diagnosed with mental health or cognitive issues. SB 1003 passed out of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and goes to the Senate floor.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Bill Would Assess Condition of Inmates in Solitary Confinement

About 2,000 inmates may have mental illness or developmental disability. A Senate bill aims to learn more.
Liang Shi, KUT News

More than 5 percent of the prison population in Texas is in solitary confinement, more than double the 2 percent national average. But one state senator says too little is known about the condition of these prisoners, especially those who may have been diagnosed with mental health or cognitive problems.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee was considering the bill Wednesday afternoon.

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