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.

Ways to Connect

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.


James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control

Texas is gearing up for Zika. Last week, state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, asked state health officials to come up with “a clear and concise plan” for dealing with a possible outbreak.

Even though leaders are on high alert, experts warn there are some underlying health care access issues in Texas that could make dealing with Zika difficult.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

On Tuesday a federal appeals court will take a second look at Texas’ controversial voter ID law. It’s one of the biggest voting rights battles ahead of this year’s presidential election, and a ruling from this court could be a final say on whether the state's law is in violation of the Voting Rights Act.


flickr/vcucns

By early this summer anyone in Texas will be able to purchase a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. The drug, naloxone, will be available with or without a prescription at Walgreens.

Like most of the country, Texas is dealing with an uptick in overdose deaths from opioids like heroin and prescription pain killers. 


Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Oklahoma officials are seriously considering expanding Medicaid in that state under the Affordable Care Act. That means all of the states surrounding Texas – including New Mexico, Arkansas and Louisiana – could soon have expanded Medicaid programs. During a meeting at the Capitol yesterday, advocates said it’s an opportunity for Texas officials to revisit this issue back home.


Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

Republican Party leaders and activists are meeting in Dallas this week for their bi-annual convention. Aside from discussing party platforms and future legislative priorities, leaders are trying to gin up excitement ahead of this year’s presidential election. However, that’s proving to be tougher than usual in a state that overwhelmingly supported Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary.


KUT

This story is part of our series, The Road to Zero, which explores traffic deaths and injuries in Austin and the city's plan to prevent them.

High speeds are one of the biggest killers on our roadways. As city officials tackle an uptick in traffic fatalities here in Austin, speed limits come up a lot.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Within hours of Austinites voting to keep current ride-hailing company regulations, including fingerprint-based background checks, state lawmakers began to debate whether those regulations should be left up to cities or the state.


Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Now that Texas knows it will receive a Medicaid waiver for uncompensated care, state lawmakers are no longer on a tight deadline for figuring out what to do about its large uninsured population.

The federal government will continue to give the state billions of dollars to reimburse Texas hospitals to pay for care provided to people without insurance. But the deal only pushed the deadline back a year to December 2017, and advocates hope lawmakers will use that time to debate Medicaid expansion.


vcucns / flickr

The University of Texas at Austin is working to get a drug that stops people from overdosing on opioids, such as heroin and prescription pills, into the hands of resident advisors and campus police. The student government recently approved a resolution, and advocates are working to get a standing order at the school’s pharmacy.


Marhsa Miller / LBJ Library

As he addressed attendees of the Vietnam War Summit at the LBJ Library Wednesday night, Secretary of State John Kerry reflected on his time both fighting in the Vietnam War and fighting against it. Kerry's address focused on how far the country has come in achieving diplomatic relationships with Vietnam, but he also said the country still has some lessons to learn from the war. 


Jay Godwin / LBJ Library

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger stopped by the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin Tuesday night to talk about the Vietnam War. His appearance was part of a three-day Vietnam War Summit sponsored by the LBJ Presidential Library. Kissinger, who remains a controversial figure in American History, addressed his critics and defended his decisions.

Owen Parry / Texas Tribune

The business community is playing an increasingly important role in debates over anti-LGBT legislation. And, following controversial bills in North Carolina and Mississippi, businesses across Texas are gearing up to take on similar bills in the legislature next year.


austinrecovery.org

Thousands of Texans would have qualified for Medicaid if state lawmakers expanded the program under the Affordable Care Act. A recent report from the Obama administration finds 23 percent of those in that gap are dealing with a mental illness or substance abuse disorder. Without Medicaid, they have fewer options when they are looking for treatment.


Shelby Tauber / Texas Tribune

The state agency in charge of preventing and investigating child abuse in Texas is in turmoil. Child Protective Services recently lost a slew of investigators in Dallas. A four-year-old child that was on the state’s radar because of abuse was beaten to death. As a result, Governor Greg Abbott announced changes in leadership at the agency, but state lawmakers on Wednesday discussed even more possible changes.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Pregnant women are among the large number of people who are part of Texas' large uninsured population. For some women, that means they won’t see a doctor until late in their pregnancy. That’s why Dell Medical School at UT Austin – in partnership with a group of community health clinics – has launched a project aimed at changing the way women in Travis County get prenatal care.


Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

It’s only been about three weeks since the Federal Drug Administration changed the label for the country’s most widely used abortion drug, mifepristone. In Texas, advocates expected this would be a big deal, because Texas law mandates physicians administer the drug exactly like it says on the label—even though those methods weren’t common medical practice.


Chan Lone/Texas Tribune

There are fewer children in Texas without health insurance these days, but the state still has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country. And according to a new study, certain races and ethnicities in the state are more likely than others to be uninsured.


via Texas Tribune

State government has been slow to respond to a rise in opioid deaths in Texas. But, with an ongoing epidemic in the state, university students have taken things into their own hands. Last week, they convinced the University of Texas System to change its own medical amnesty policy.


Michael Stravato, via Texas Tribune

Starting this morning, Texas lawmakers will spend two days discussing the state’s Medicaid program. On the docket is a look at services and ways to cut costs, but there's a big question looming in the discussion of whether a big chunk of that Medicaid money will even be there next year.

Calafellvalo via Flickr

Believe it or not, Texas is not among a short list of states that prohibits fetal tissue research. Advocates and researchers say that’s a good thing, because Texas is among a list of states that would be affected if the Zika virus makes it into the U.S. mosquito population. 


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