Ashley Lopez | KUT

Ashley Lopez moderates a panel on federal immigration policy in July 2018.
Credit Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Ashley Lopez joined KUT in January 2016. She covers politics and health care, and is part of the NPR-Kaiser Health News reporting collaborative. Previously she worked as a reporter at public radio stations in Louisville, Ky.; Miami and Fort Myers, Fla., where she won a National Edward R. Murrow Award.

Ashley was also part of NPR’s Political Reporting Partnership during the 2016 presidential election. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Throughout this month, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is hearing public comment on its proposed changes to licensing standards, which advocates say are missing an important item: better caretaker to child ratios in day cares.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Attorneys are headed back to court because of the state’s voter ID law. This time it’s over how Texas election officials are explaining the changes they were forced to make to the law.

Callie Richmond / Texas Tribune

Texas has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country. Until recently, teenage girls had a hard time getting access to affordable contraceptives through state health programs, and that’s an issue the state is tackling as it reboots its troubled Women’s Health Program.


Miguel Gutierrez, Jr. / KUT

Bill Gravell keeps a pair of camouflage boots in the backseat of his white pickup truck. They've been through pastures and farmlands, in the middle of plane and train crashes, he says.

Once, Gravell didn't chance to change out of dress shoes on his way to a body and ended up ruining those shoes. Now, he makes ready at a moment's notice.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Yesterday, Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos visited an undergraduate American history class at UT Austin to talk about voting, as part of the state's voter outreach effort following a court battle over the state's voter ID law. 


Veronica Zaragovia / KUT

A legal battle over some of the state’s political districts still isn’t over. About half a decade ago, a group of Texas voters sued the state claiming the legislature’s 2011 redistricting maps discriminated against minorities. About two years ago, there was a trial, but since then nothing has happened.


Jorge Sanhueza Lyon / KUT

Texas elections officials have a big task ahead of them. After a federal court ruled the state’s voter ID law was discriminatory, Texas now has to explain its tweaks to the law ahead of Election Day in November.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Within a two-year period between 2010 and 2012, the rate of pregnant women dying in Texas doubled – and it’s not entirely clear why.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine stopped in Austin yesterday and met with local volunteers and supporters to thank them for their work.

While the focus of his visit was mostly to let Texas Democrats know they are important to the national party, Kaine also had to address – and strongly denounce – Donald Trump’s latest comments aimed at Hillary Clinton.


Cheryl Gerber / Texas Tribune

A federal judge is hearing possible fixes to the state’s voter ID law today.

The state was forced to make some changes because the law was ruled discriminatory. While some proposed changes have been agreed upon by both sides, the judge will still have to settle some disputes about just what voters will have to do to cast a ballot in November. Both sides have proposed expanding the list of IDs voters can use at the polls.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

The Zika virus will be front and center as public health officials meet in Austin Monday to discuss infectious disease preparedness in the state. Besides funding issues, though, pockets of high uninsured rates in Texas could make monitoring for the mosquito-transmitted virus more complicated.


KUT News

If you dropped your child off at day care this morning, you likely left them with a regulated provider. That means they have to follow a bunch of state rules created to make day care centers safer. But advocates say the state is not doing enough to improve one of those standards – specifically, the ratio of caretakers-to-children in each facility.


Pu Ying-Huang/KUT News

UT Austin officials say there shouldn’t be much of a difference for anyone on campus now that concealed handguns are allowed on school grounds. In fact, officials have said that if you see a gun on campus, you should call the police.

UT Austin president Greg Fenves had a simple message for students and staff on campus Monday.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

This Friday is the last day state health officials are taking public comment on an updated informational booklet they put together. It’s given to abortion providers, who are then required to give it to women seeking the procedure. Abortion rights advocates have long criticized the booklet because it contains medically inaccurate information.

Cheryl Gerber / Texas Tribune

Last week, a federal appeals court ruled Texas’ voter ID law makes it harder for minorities to vote. The state was told it could no longer enforce the law as is.

Early voting in the first election since that ruling is now underway, so that special election in Bexar County is following a new set of rules.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

There was a little-noticed lawsuit filed in federal court this week.

Lawyers representing six Latino voters in Texas argue the way we elect judges for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court violates the Voting Rights Act because it denies Latino voters an equal opportunity to elect judges of their choice.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

Correction: An earlier version of this story suggested the cuts were imminent and would be going into effect July 15. Due to a Texas Supreme Court ruling, those cuts are temporarily on hold. We regret the error.

Groups who provide therapy to children with developmental issues are slated to receive less money from the state for those services. That’s thanks to a slew of cuts approved by the Texas legislature last year. For now those cuts are temporarily on hold, thanks to a Texas Supreme Court ruling last week.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

A number of health care leaders and advocates want Texas to include mosquito repellent in pharmacy benefits for people on Medicaid and other government health programs.  


Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

The deadline for a federal appeals court to rule on the state’s controversial voter ID law is fast approaching. The U.S. Supreme Court gave the court until July 20 to make a decision about whether the law violates federal civil rights law. But, no matter what happens, this likely isn’t the end of this legal battle.

First of all, the fact that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals even has a deadline on this is the first indicator that this case is pretty unique.

Tamir Kalifa / Texas Tribune

After weeks of pressure from civil rights attorneys, the Texas Department of State Health Services has released abortion data for 2014 – the first year the state's controversial law, House Bill 2, was in effect. 


Gabriel Cristóval Pérez / KUT

Alcohol is so ubiquitous in Austin you’d be hard-pressed to find a place where you can’t get a drink. We aren’t talking just about restaurants and bars here. Think of coffee shops, taco stands, bakeries, hair salons, festivals, farmers markets – even workspaces, in some instances.  

For most of us, this is just part of living in Austin. It might even be part of what you love about the city — part of Austin's charm, right? This is a place where you can kick back and grab a beer with friends practically anywhere. But what if you are trying to be sober?


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The Texas Women’s Health Program has been a little rocky for the past few years. Ever since the state kicked out providers like Planned Parenthood, the program has been struggling to provide reproductive health care to all the low-income women it’s supposed to serve. But state health officials have been working on improving the program. And after getting some feedback from around the state, state health officials say they are launching some big changes this Friday.


Dell Medical School via YouTube

The first class of the new Dell Medical School at UT Austin begins its first day of orientation Monday. Students will begin their first official day of class on July 5. It’s a moment that’s been many years in the making, and local health care and education leaders say this is the beginning of an effort to close some of the health care gaps in Austin.


James Gathany/CDC

States that are home to the aedes agypti mosquito have been keeping tabs on confirmed cases of the Zika virus, which can cause severe birth defects in unborn children.

So far, states have reported primarily travel-related cases and just a few that were sexually transmitted.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Over the weekend, Texas Democrats met in San Antonio ahead of this year’s presidential election. A question on almost everyone’s lips was whether this year’s election has set the groundwork for Democratic gains in the state.

Shelby Tauber / Texas Tribune

Now that each party has a presumptive presidential nominee, fundraising for the November election has kicked into high gear. That’s why it’s not surprising Republican Donald Trump will be in Texas this week for three fundraising events in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The Lone Star State has always been a reliable ATM for the GOP, but strategists say Trump has a lot to make up for with Republicans here – and that includes donors.


Eric Schlegel for the Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on Texas’s controversial abortion bill in the coming weeks. Abortion providers and activists in Texas are waiting to hear what the court decides. In the meantime, they are also preparing for a possible loss and clinic closures that would follow.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

Austin is one of about two dozen large cities in the U.S. that collects and publishes demographic information about people who get tickets or are arrested as a part of the Police Data Initiative. It’s part of an effort to add transparency when it comes to thing like racial profiling.

Today, Austin’s Public Safety Commission will present some new ways the city can expand its efforts to further improve that transparency.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

It’s been six months since a law went into effect that changes the rules for judicial bypasses – that's when a judge allows a minor to have an abortion without getting consent or notifying an adult. These bypasses are mostly sought by young women who fear abuse or can’t locate a parent or guardian. Advocates say this legal tool is vital to the young women who use it. But, since a law passed last year, it’s been harder than ever to get them.


Image via Flickr/SmartSign (CC BY 2.0)

Parents of transgender children here in Texas spoke up on Tuesday against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton. Both officials are leading the state’s opposition to a new directive from the Obama administration that says students need to be allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. The parents say state leaders are creating a hostile environment for their children.


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