Andrew Weber | KUT

Digital Reporter

Andrew Weber is a digital reporter for KUT News. A graduate of St. Edward's University with a degree in English, Andrew has previously interned with The Texas Tribune, The Austin American-Statesman and KOOP Radio.

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A sign telling people to vote.
Salvador Castro for KUT

Ahead of the primaries next month, officials say, more than 821,000 people are registered to vote in Travis County. The 95% registration rate is an all-time county record – one that will likely be broken before Election Day in November.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Marijuana is in a hazy spot in Texas, legally speaking.

The Travis County Courthouse
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

People arrested for misdemeanors in Travis County will no longer have to pay cash to be released from jail, under an order released Thursday by county judges.

A homeless encampment near the ARCH in downtown Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin City Council is hiring Matthew Doherty, former head of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, to help find solutions to homelessness here. Members approved his contract on a 10-1 vote Thursday – but not without some trepidation, as Doherty's eight-month contract could cost the city $95,000.

The Travis County Courthouse in Austin
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Travis County has hired a University of Virginia law professor as the first person to lead its public defender office. Until last year, the county was the largest jurisdiction in the United States without an office to handle cases for poor adults accused of crimes.

A homeless encampment near the ARCH shelter in downtown Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

As Austin seeks short-term housing for its homeless population, city staff say one option for an emergency shelter wouldn't come online for at least another two years.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Public health officials confirmed Thursday morning the first case of rubella in Travis County since 1999. The confirmation comes roughly a month after the first diagnosis of measles, which was last seen in the Austin area in 1999, too.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Travis County is re-examining its system of fines and fees with the goal of producing a more equitable system to better collect court debt and consider the impact on poor defendants.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Strong winds, severe thunderstorms, hail and a possible tornado could hit the Austin area this evening, according to the National Weather Service. A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for much of Central and South Texas until 10:15 p.m. 

It previously was until 10.

Gov. Greg Abbott
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott directed state troopers to increase patrols within two blocks of state buildings in Central Austin after two stabbings involving homeless Austinites since Friday.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin public health officials say there's no longer any risk of a measles outbreak associated with a Travis County case reported in December.

Late last month, Travis County recorded its first measles case in two decades. It stemmed from an individual who had traveled abroad. Austin Public Health says the incubation period, which lasts from 10 to 14 days, is now over and there have been no new cases.

A homeless encampment in downtown Austin.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Homelessness was a controversial issue in Austin in 2019 – here's a timeline of all the developments – and it's not going away any time soon. With that in mind, here's a look at some issues and initiatives to keep an eye on this year.

Lead volunteer Rachael Pound speaks with a man experiencing homelessness, in a convenience store on South Congress Avenue.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Roughly 2,500 homeless people sleep in shelters or outdoors in Austin on a given night. That estimate comes from the "point-in-time" count, an annual citywide census of the homeless community. Cities and counties must do the count on a single night to get federal money to help combat homelessness and house people living on the streets.

Sometimes, Austin's predictable. There are issues faced by this city and our neighbors that just won't go away – issues like expansion and growth and inequity. They're bedrock-issues in any city, sure. But, in Austin, 2019 cut to the quick, exposing that bedrock.

An examing room
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Public health officials say the first case of measles in Austin in more than 20 years was contracted by a person who is now in Virginia.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin Public Health says a person in Travis County has been diagnosed with measles for the first time since 1999.

Julia Reihs / KUT

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a ruling that found a ban against camping in public in Boise, Idaho, is unconstitutional. 

Larry D. Hodge / Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Zebra mussels are continuing to spread through Texas lakes.

Texas Parks and Wildlife said Thursday that both Granger Lake and Lake Marble Falls are infested with the invasive species. The mussels have infested 19 lakes in Texas since their first appearance in Lake Texoma in 2009.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin City Council delayed a $7.8-million plan to buy and renovate a Montopolis-area hotel and retrofit it to house Austinites transitioning out of homelessness. Council members are expected to take up the proposal at a meeting in January.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin City Council will vote Monday on whether to spend $7.8 million to buy and renovate a hotel off Riverside Drive in East Austin to house homelessness Austinites. The property could house at least 71 people.

Spencer Selvidge for KUT

If you're feeling lazy and you're looking for booze this holiday season, you're in luck. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission announced Thursday it's going to allow third-party delivery of alcohol from restaurants, liquor stores and grocery stores.

KUT News

Longtime Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, who represents suburban Southwest Austin, says he does not plan to seek reelection when his term expires next year. He served for 14 years and is currently the only Republican on the five-member commissioners court.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin City Council members say they're concerned about the timeline, placement and funding strategy for a plan to expand efforts to buy and retrofit hotels to house homeless Austinites.

The Crestview neighborhood
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

A state appeals court has declared some elements of Austin's rules governing short-term rentals unconstitutional, including provisions banning non-owner-occupied rentals and occupancy limits.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

If you're looking for a chance to get a Thanksgiving meal – or if you're looking for a volunteer opportunity – we've got a whole list of options this week. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Red Bud Isle has reopened after being closed for months because of toxins that attached to blue-green algae, city officials say. 

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department said at noon it reopened the area on Lady Bird Lake, which had been the nexus of a bloom of algae that was reportedly responsible for the deaths of at least five dogs. The city closed the area in August, and had been periodically monitoring levels of toxins in algae at various sites on the lake.

Travis County Justice of the Peace for Precinct 5 Judge Nick Chu
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas is chasing its tail when it comes to collecting court fees and fines, a new study says. And that inefficiency wastes courts' time and money – and keeps poor defendants in a cycle of poverty.

Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Cody Wilson, the self-described anarchist and figurehead of the 3D-printed gun movement, led investigators on an international manhunt last year before being arrested and charged with having sex with a minor. In August, he struck a deal with Travis County prosecutors, pleading guilty to a lesser charge of injury to a child, which is a felony.

The Rodeway Inn
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin City Council unanimously passed an $8-million plan to buy and repurpose the Rodeway Inn in South Austin to house people transitioning out of homelessness.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin is no longer pursuing a 100-bed shelter in South Austin and could opt instead to provide housing in motels for homeless Austinites.

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