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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Same-Sex Marriage
8:35 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage Supporters in Texas Await Federal Judge's Decision

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia is slated to rule soon on a case challenging Texas’ constitutional ban of same-sex marriages.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/fabliaux

A U.S. district judge is slated to rule soon on a case challenging Texas’ constitutional ban of same-sex marriages. The judge heard arguments Wednesday in a federal court in San Antonio. 

The plaintiffs in the case are two same-sex couples – one lives in the Austin area and another near Dallas. They’re asking for a preliminary injunction on Texas’s law. But even if U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia,  a Clinton appointee, finds the state ban unconstitutional, plaintiffs' attorneys don’t expect that we’ll see the long lines of gay couples waiting to get married – like we did after a recent decision in Utah.

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Same-Sex Marriage
8:49 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Will Texas' Same-Sex Couples Benefit From New Federal Protections?

Cori Samilpa of Austin waves an LGBT flag as the 2013 Austin Pride Parade makes its way down Congress Avenue.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The U.S. Department of Justice says it will extend federal protections to all U.S. same-sex couples married legally – regardless of where they live.

That includes couples living in Texas – which has banned such marriages. So what does this federal decision mean for the state?

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Affordable Care Act
7:44 pm
Sat February 8, 2014

Refugees in Texas Face Hurdles Signing Up for Obamacare Plans

Pastor John Monger, top right, worries about refugees understanding the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

This story is a result of a partnership with the Austin-American Statesman’s Tim Eaton and Kelly West. You can find more at Statesman.com.

By the end of March,  all people in the U.S. legally must have health insurance – or pay a tax penalty next year. That includes refugees, who often lack the English skills to understand the ins and outs of the insurance system.

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Tejano Trails
6:33 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Could East Austin's Tejano Trails Keep Gentrification at Bay?

A cyclist passes El Buen Pastor Early Childhood Development Center on the Tejano Healthy Walking Trail in East Austin.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez, KUT

The Tejano Trails in East Austin are meant to highlight landmarks and legends of the area, but they’re not easy to find. Groups are now working to make the history of this neighborhood more visible under the guidance of a National Parks Service program. 

Last fall, the Scoot Inn, the oldest continuing running bar in Central Texas, made for a fitting location for an event promoting the next phase of Austin’s Tejano Trails

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Texas
11:26 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Almost Half of Texas Lacks Savings to Cover Job Loss, Medical Emergency

Volunteers sort food at the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. A new report suggests almost half of Texas households aren’t financially prepared in the event of a job loss or health emergency.
Credit KUT News

Another national report card is out, and Texas households are still struggling to beef up their savings. 

Almost half of Texas households don’t have enough savings to pay for basic expenses for three months, which means most families aren’t prepared in the event of a job loss or health emergency.

According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s 2014 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, the state’s policies are also not helping residents achieve financial security.

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Texas
8:41 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Texas' Income Gap Widens as Minority Populations Grow

In Texas, poverty rates among Hispanics and African Americans are about 2.5 to 3 times higher than whites.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address tonight. He’s expected to make a big deal about economic mobility and reducing income inequality in the U.S.

But the challenges are substantial when it comes to narrowing the divide. Texas has the eighth highest level of income inequality,  based on 2010 Census data.

"In terms of Texas, we have a lot of upper end income inequality," says Mark Frank, an economics professor at Sam Houston State University. "We have a lot of income inequality because we have the top 1 percent or .01 percent."

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Abortion
7:06 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Is Texas' Abortion Law an Undue Burden? What's at Stake in New Rules

A federal appeals court is deciding whether certain provisions of Texas’ new abortion law are unconstitutional by using the undue burden test.
photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri

A federal appeals court is deciding whether certain provisions of Texas’ new abortion law are unconstitutional.

In making that decision, judges will have to weigh those provisions using what’s known as “the undue burden test.”

For two decades, judges have been weighing the constitutionality of abortion regulations using this concept.

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Affordable Care Act
7:40 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

It's Official: Texas OKs Extra Rules, Training for Obamacare Navigators

Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber listened to testimony at a public hearing on proposed rules for health insurance navigators in Austin on Dec. 20, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Texas now has extra requirements for Affordable Care Act navigators who help consumers find their way around the federally-run health insurance marketplace. 

Beginning at the end of 2013 and lasting through early January, the Texas Department of Insurance listened to public testimony and received more than 300 pages of written comments on the proposed rules.

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MLK Day
4:37 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Austinites Pay Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. statue on the UT-Austin campus
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Hundreds of people gathered near the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. statue on the UT campus this morning to honor the life of the slain civil rights leader.

Several people spoke before the crowd, including University of Texas President Bill Powers. He said much has changed since Dr. King visited UT 52 years ago, when athletics and dorms were still segregated.

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Texas
5:39 am
Mon January 20, 2014

How Access to Documents at Texas Presidential Libraries Is Changing

This in-person view of the stacks at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library will only be seen by groups that get clearance from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Texas has more presidential libraries than any other state. And they’re going through changes with regard to accessing classified documents.

On the 10th floor of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, the sound of archivists pushing wooden book trucks on the bright red carpet is a familiar one.

"We have a reading room where researches come to do the research, and we bring up the boxes that they need," Senior Archivist Regina Greenwall says. She's the team leader of the library's foreign policy staff. "And they work on them in the reading room under supervision. The stacks are where we keep things not in use or that have not already gone through the process of being opened."

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Texas
4:29 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Physicians Group Gives Texas a Failing Grade for Access to Emergency Care

Texas is failing in several categories when it comes to its emergency care environment, according to a new report card from the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Nathan Bernier, KUT

Texas is failing in several categories when it comes to its emergency care environment, at least according to a report card from the American College of Emergency Physicians.   

Based near Dallas, the physicians group grades states each year on their emergency care environment.

This year, Texas gets an F, ranking 47th in the nation, for access to emergency care.

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Austin
5:44 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Austin Authorities Follow Strict Protocol After Safety Scare at Women's Clinic

Lieutenant Katrina Pruitt holds up an envelope that caused a safety scare at a North Austin Whole Woman's Health clinic on Jan. 15, 2014.
KUT

What can happen when a delivery to a women’s health clinic in Austin doesn’t follow protocol? Today we found out when the Austin Police Department blocked off the Whole Woman’s Health on North Interstate 35. It happened after clinic staff found two envelopes taped to two different doors of the facility early this morning.

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Affordable Care Act
8:32 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Despite Increased Enrollment, Online Spanish Sign-Up Faces Challenges

Ovidio Jesus Garcia, left, gets help from Gigi Veliz at Foundation Communities' Insure Central Texas location at Highland Mall on Jan. 14, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Almost 120,000 Texans signed up for health insurance through the federally run marketplace through the end of last month, but it’s only a small fraction of the state’s total uninsured population.

And enrollment of Latinos, a group targeted by the Obama administration has had its challenges.

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Texas
5:20 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

What SCOTUS Inaction Means for the Texas Abortion Ban

An Arizona case has been denied the chance to be heard by the nation's highest court, but what does that mean for Texas' 20-week ban on abortions?
Eric Schlegel, Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court is declining to take up a case involving abortion.

State officials in Arizona were appealing a lower court’s decision to strike down a state law that would have banned most abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. But does the high court’s decision not to take up the case have implications on any future challenges to the 20-week ban that went into effect in Texas last year?

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Poverty
5:30 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Fifty Years After Start of War on Poverty, Texas Has Room for Improvement

Today marks 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson called on Congress and the nation to fight poverty. Texas – President Johnson’s home state – often touts its growing economy. But the state has one of the highest rates of poverty in the U.S.
LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas

Today marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's call to Congress, and the nation, to fight poverty.

Texas – President Johnson’s home state – often touts its growing economy. But the state has one of the highest rates of poverty in the U.S.

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Aging in Texas
9:01 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Experts Turn to Tech as Texas Population Ages and Geriatric Doctors Dwindle

Austin resident Joe Bachicha, 80, overcomes feelings of depression by taking long walks and reaching out to his three daughters.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Almost 3 million people in Texas are between the ages of 65 and 85, according to the office of the state demographer. That number is expected to more than double by the year 2040.

Texas – like the rest of the country – lacks enough geriatric mental health professionals to match the population. So experts are looking at alternatives to help seniors overcome depression -- that includes one approach using technology.

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Affordable Care Act
2:02 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Some See Politics in Proposed Training Rules for Insurance 'Navigators'

State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, spoke against proposed rules from the Texas Department of Insurance for so-called "navigators" at a public hearing on Jan. 6, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Texas officials have proposed adding new rules for the so-called "navigators" -- the people who help consumers sign up for health insurance through the federally-run marketplace.

Today, Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber heard comments for and against these rules from the public, including additional hours of training, which some say is political effort to hamper the health insurance law.

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HB2
9:29 am
Mon January 6, 2014

U.S. Appeals Court to Hear Texas Abortion Law Case

The John Minor Wisdom U.S. Courthouse, home of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Credit photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri

State officials and plaintiffs suing on behalf of Texas abortion providers are due back in court this morning.

The case being heard this morning was launched by abortion rights advocates hoping to overturn a state statute - known as HB2 - that regulates abortions. It was passed by the Texas Legislature in July and has since been tied up in a legal battle that has been appealed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

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Texas
9:18 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Firearm Parts Maker Packing Up in Colorado, Moving to Texas

Magpul Industries announced on Jan. 2, 2014 that it's moving its headquarters from Colorado to Texas. Manufacturing will go to Wyoming.

Magpul Industries makes firearm magazines and accessories. It’s based in Erie, Colo., near Boulder. But it’s moving its headquarters to Texas.

Director of product management and marketing Duane Liptak says Magpul's decision is a result of Colorado’s new legislation that limits sales of firearm accessories and imposes universal background checks.

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Texas
9:55 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Don't Bid Auf Wiedersehen to Texas German Just Yet

The Saengerrunde Damenchor began singing in 1959 at the Austin Saengerrunde. The women usually rehearse on Monday evenings.
David Weaver

Texas is the only place in the world where you can find an unusual hybrid of German and English. 

This Texas-German dialect stretches back to the 1800s, before Texas was even a state, when German immigrants arrived here. While the number of speakers dwindles, Texas-German pride hasn't. 

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