News, policy discussions, and major events happening in or related to Texas, told from an Austin perspective

Charlotte Carpenter for KUT News

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule, possibly today, on a case that will decide whether tax subsidies for health insurance plans bought on the federal marketplace are legal.

If the court strikes down the subsidies, however, the matter of who decides what happens next in Texas remains murky. 

Photo via San Antonio Charter Moms/(CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

For more than 130 years, a mill has been a landmark of the Johnson City community. It’s served as a steam grist mill, cotton gin, feed mill and even a restaurant. But it was vacant for a while, until its latest tenant moved in: a science museum.

Do You Need Eggs For Breakfast Tacos?

Jun 17, 2015

You’ve seen the headlines this month: “America’s Egg Shortage Threatens Austin’s Breakfast Taco Supply," “Austin Restaurants Respond To National Egg Crisis.”

But - wait a minute. We need to think through this clearly. Deep breaths.

Photo courtesy wallyg, flickr.com/70323761@N00

Before the end of the month, possibly as soon as today, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on a case called King v. Burwell. The decision could affect the price of health insurance for roughly 1 million people in Texas.

It's a decision that comes down to four words.

Does Your Water Bottle Really Need to be 'Smart?'

Jun 12, 2015

From Texas Standard:

Imagine a world where you could count every sip of water you took – and your boss could see it too. That’s the idea behind brothers Jac and Davis Saltzgiver’s new invention, Trago.

“We allow coaches and teams, or even parents, to monitor an entire group of people with multiple bottles, so a coach or trainer could make sure their entire team is well hydrated before a game,” Davis Saltzgiver says.

Daniel Reese/KUT News

Abortion providers in Texas want a federal appeals court to block its own ruling. They’re asking the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay its decision upholding a 2013 abortion law, because allowing the law to go into effect would leave Texas with no more than eight clinics. [Read the stay request here.]

On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit upheld the Texas law (HB 2) requiring abortion physicians to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. 

Photo by Matt Largey/KUT News

The 2015 wildfire season is fast approaching. In Colorado yesterday, federal officials talked about the growing threat of catastrophic wildfires across the country.

Here in Texas, the threat of wildfires is not as high as in other states, but that’s because of recent flooding. 

Experts like Tom Spencer, who heads the predictive services department at the Texas A&M Forest Service, say this year, the upcoming wildfire season is causing them less stress.

Jeff Heimsath/KUT News

On Tuesday, the White House released numbers illustrating the effect of the Affordable Care Act here in Texas — numbers that came out on the same day that President Obama delivered a speech in which he described his signature health care law as a success.

President Obama spoke Tuesday at the Catholic Hospital Association conference in Washington, D.C. He told the audience the Affordable Care Act has turned out better than even its supporters expected.

"Nearly one in three Americans have already been covered," he said, receiving applause. "More than 16 million people driving our uninsured rate to its lowest level, ever. Ever."

Alexa Ura/Texas Tribune

A federal appeals court is allowing several disputed elements of Texas’ HB2 abortion law to go into effect.


No taxation with menstruation — that’s what 75,000 Canadians said in a petition to lobby the federal government to remove sales tax from feminine hygiene products. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

In the roughly 13 years that Tom Keyser has owned Ino’z Brew & Chew in Wimberley, he’s been flooded three times, and last month’s flooding was the worst.

"This water level inside the building and in the restaurant itself was the highest it’s ever, ever been," he said. 

The restaurant got 18 inches of water in areas including the kitchen and main dining area, which meant Keyser and his partner had to close down the restaurant for five days. That was tough for him, his partner and their 35 employees.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

In May, Texas had the highest monthly rainfall total in its history, but the hundreds of people affected by flash flooding are finding out that they may not have had the right type of insurance coverage. The Insurance Council of Texas is warning Texans that a homeowner policy doesn’t cover everything.

"A lot of people think this homeowner policy is good for flooding. It’s not," says Mark Hanna, a spokesperson for the  Insurance Council of Texas. "You need to get a separate flood insurance policy. That’s going to protect you against any type of rising waters."

Meanwhile, residents of Hays, Harris and Van Zandt Counties may be eligible for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Residents can register online at disasterassistance.gov.

KUT News

Some Texans may have benefited more than others from the Affordable Care Act, according to research by the Episcopal Health Foundation and Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the rate of uninsured Hispanics has dropped 38 percent. As of March this year, less than a quarter of Hispanics still didn't have health insurance.

This Sunday, 150 girls ages six to 16 will say goodbye to their parents, grab their trunks and move into their summer cabins at Rocky River Ranch. The 50-year-old camp is a place preserved in time. When alumni drop off their little sisters and daughters, director Shanna Watson asks them if anything looks different.

Mose Buchele/KUT News

It’s been about a week since devastating floods swept through Texas, bringing destruction and even death.

The floods also set the scene for acts of heroism.

As the waters have receded, some of those stories have surfaced. One of them took place early Sunday morning on Memorial Day weekend on River Road in San Marcos.

Daniel Navarro and his stepfather Chris Gutierrez were searching for a family member and came across a woman and her three children stranded in their car in the floodwaters. Navarro and Gutierrez tell us what happened next.

Central Texas just had one of its wettest Mays on record. The heavy rainfall, storms and flooding became deadly and destructive, causing 23 deaths. Crews continue to search for those who are still missing in Hays County, where storms and flooding destroyed homes and property of many residents.

President Obama gave Texas a federal disaster declaration Saturday, allowing affected counties access to federal aid for relief efforts.

Erika Rich/Texas Tribune

Update, May 30, 2015:

An open carry bill was approved by the Texas Legislature on Friday, and the measure now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk for his signature.

Texas is one of few states where open carry is prohibited, but the bill approved by state lawmakers on Friday would change that. License holders would be allowed to openly carry in a hip or shoulder holster.

Right now, Texans can only carry concealed handguns.

In Texas, Lucky Dogs Go to This Pet Retirement Home

May 29, 2015

If you go to the Stevenson Companion Animal Life Care Center at Texas A&M, you’ll be greeted by a posse of dogs that includes a 10-year-old Boston Terrier named Patty. She has short little legs and an irresistibly smooshed face. She was running in circles around my legs.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT News

We’ve been reporting on the damage caused to communities like San Marcos and Wimberley after record flooding along the Blanco River.

Since then, volunteers have come out in force to help people dealing with the aftermath.

At a former Target in San Marcos, instead of aisle after aisle of merchandise, table after table is covered in donations. Diane Insley, the coordinator at this donation center, lists off all of the donations they have.

"Cleaning supplies, mops, tools to rip out sheet rock that’s been damaged. We also have basic food, non perishable food items, a lot of bottled water, some brand new clothing, some basic shoes and then we have baby items, personal hygiene, deodorant soaps, Clorox bleach, laundry detergent...," she points out. 


From Texas Standard:

The ground is saturated, the grass is green and the state climatologist has declared the statewide drought as we’ve known it since 2010 effectively over.

But there’s at least one piece of the puzzle that’s not quite there yet: some of the state’s water supplies – including the lakes that supply much of the Austin area.

John Hoffman is with the Lower Colorado River Authority. He says the lakes are now more than 50 percent full – that’s up about 20 percent from where the lakes were earlier this year – but it isn’t enough.