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healthcare.gov

Today marks the opening of the Affordable Care Act’s federal health insurance marketplace – healthcare.gov.

Beginning today, consumers can begin purchasing health insurance plans, with coverage beginning Jan. 1. It’s a signature component of the insurance changes collectively known as "Obamacare."

KUT has been covering the run-up to today’s marketplace opening. Here’s some answers to common questions about the marketplace: the types of coverage offered, how to navigate the marketplace and more, including an interactive guide.

Daniel Reese for KUT News

Update: Austin City Council members unanimously approved a rental registration program early this morning (Items 11, 12).

Council members were considering two different proposals. One would have required the owners of rental property in certain areas of the city to register. But the proposal the council approved will require rental properties with multiple health and safety violations to be registered – no matter where the properties are located in the city.

The program requires properties on the registration list to be periodically inspected.

Ben Philpott for KUT News

Update: Sen. Cruz's remarks have ended. For a recap, see: With A Call For Prayer, Cruz Wraps Up Protest Against Obamacare.

Original Post (Sept. 24): Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz seems to be taking a play from another Texas politico: Wendy Davis.

On the floor of the U.S. Senate moments ago, Sen. Cruz announced he will deliver extended, filibuster-style remarks on his support for defunding President Obama’s signature package of health care reforms, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

National Weather Service

Update: Heading home? Public safety officials remind Austinites to drive safely, and turn around at all high water crossings.

Rain is expected to continue into tomorrow, keeping the area under a Flash Flood Watch at least until 7 a.m. tomorrow.

Kate McGee, KUT News

This week was a busy one for Texas education. Here's what we picked up.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Grocery retailer Trader Joe’s is opening its first Austin store on Friday.

The store on Bee Caves Road is the first of three planned for the Austin region. A second location is planned downtown for the redeveloped Sealholm area. And today the chain announced it will open a third Austin location next year at the Arboretum Shopping Center.

Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

It’s another Ozone Action Day in Central Texas. People with asthma and emphysema, the elderly and children should stay indoors today. The bad air puts Austin another step closer to possible environmental sanctions. 

High temperatures and low wind, when combined with pollution from cars and electricity production, boost ozone levels in Central Texas. That’s why Deana Altenhoff is asking everyone to do what they can to keep additional pollution out of the air today. 

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

An Austin police officer who fatally shot a man in East Austin last year will not face charges.

After reviewing the shooting, a Travis County grand jury declined to indict Officer Eric Copeland. Police say he shot Ahmede Bradley three times in the chest after a struggle over Copeland’s handgun. The shooting happened the same night as the killing of APD Officer Jaime Padron, in an unrelated incident.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Some Austin fast food workers are joining a nationwide strike for higher wages. Employees from Wendy’s, Jack in the Box and Long John Silver’s gathered in protest this afternoon on Guadalupe Street near the UT campus.

Greg Lee works at Long John Silver’s. He makes $7.25 an hour.

National Weather Service

Austin may be getting a break from the triple-digit heat – in the form of storm clouds.

It’s tough for cold fronts to make it this far south in the summer, but one has made it down far enough to affect conditions in Central Texas. National Weather Service forecaster Aaron Treadway says it includes a real rain chance.

flickr.com/boedker

The City of Austin is looking to create a pedestrian advisory council.

The pedestrian group would look at safety and walkability issues, making recommendations to city staff and the City Council. The proposal comes as city policy prioritizes denser, more walkable development – and also at a time when pedestrian deaths are on people’s minds: There were 78 traffic deaths (including pedestrians) in Austin last year.

City of Austin

Update: The developers of the J.W. Marriott convention center downtown won’t be getting nearly $4 million in fee waivers.

In a late night hearing, the Austin City Council declined to act on an item that would have forgiven “past non-compliance” on developer White Lodging’s part. In return for $3.8 million in fee waivers, White Lodging agreed to pay construction and trade workers the prevailing wage on the project. But the company instead paid many workers a differently calculated, lower wage.

Travis County Democratic Party

Long-time Austin activist Anne C. McAfee passed away on Saturday.

McAfee, 82, passed away at her home last Saturday after complications from a stroke she suffered while attending a protest against abortion restrictions late last month, during State Sen. Wendy Davis’ filibuster of the bill.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: The Senate has given a final vote to pass House Bill 2, passing it 19-11.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst asked Senators that  "whether you're Christian, whether you're a person of faith, that we not forget to love each other." He said he felt goose bumps by seeing the orange and blue shirts in the gallery.

Update: The fate of House Bill 2 has been decided for now. The Texas Senate voted preliminarily 19 to 11 to pass the measure, without any amendments.

They need to give the bill a final vote before it would go to Gov. Rick Perry's desk for a signature.

In the last stretch of the night, senators gave most of their most impassioned statements when they gave their closing remarks.

  • View a photo gallery of the day's events in the slideshow player at the top of this page.

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Update: The House passed HB 2 on a vote of 96 to 49 this morning. The bill will be sent to the Senate Health & Human Services Committee this week for a vote, and the bill could be sent to the Senate floor for a full vote as early next week. 

Update (10:00 a.m.) Last night the House passed HB 2 on second reading by a vote of 98 to 49. The bill, which would limit access to abortions across Texas, is set for a third and final reading today in the House.

If passed, the bill will head across the Capitol rotunda to the Senate, and it could be sent to a committee as soon as this week. Below you can watch the live stream of the vote from our reporting partners The Texas Tribune.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/emdot/

While Texas lawmakers work on ways to set aside more money for transportation projects, the state has been moving up in the ranks of an annual report on highway conditions.

The report from the Reason Foundation rates Texas 11th in the nation over 11 indicators, including soundness of bridges, urban and rural pavement conditions, and total spending per mile of state roads.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

To keep you up-to-date on all the action going on at the Capitol today, we've created a Storify to monitor the protests on the first day of the special session. Click below to see the timeline.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry went after State Sen. Wendy Davis today in a speech to a national anti-abortion group in Dallas over Davis’ 11-hour filibuster this week that helped block an abortion bill from passing.

Perry said her own birth and life under difficult circumstances — Davis was born to a single mother and was herself a single mother at age 19 — should have taught her to take Perry’s side on the issue.

Rachel Adams-Heard for KUT News

Update: UT Austin officials are reacting today’s ruling on the university’s use of race as a factor in admissions decision. 

For UT, the 7 to 1 ruling from the Supreme Court sending the case back to a lower court doesn’t change anything – for now. President Bill Powers painted the ruling as a win for UT Austin – and higher education in general.

Three Georgetown teens have won an international student rocketry competition, beating out two teams from France and the United Kingdom.

This morning at the International Rocketry Challenge, Daniel Kelton and brothers Mark and Matthew Janecka launched their rocket, successfully propelling it to 750 feet in the air within seconds and landing their cargo, a single egg, safely at Le Bourget Airport in Paris. 

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

A new poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune shows that many Texans are not familiar with some of the highest profile politicians in the state, particularly the Democratic ones.

flickr.com/carlos

Paying for transportation infrastructure is big part of the special session underway now at the Texas Capitol. But, for some lawmakers, it's not a big enough part.

Senate Joint Resolution 2 would send some oil and gas tax money into a new fund, but everyone agrees that much more money is needed.

A business in Austin is laying off hundreds of employees. OneWest Bank has notified the Texas Workforce Commission that intents to lay off more than 700 employees in Austin.

The California-based company is a mortgage services provider with offices in the Domain complex.

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the nation. About 75 percent of Americans will contract the virus during their lifetime, and younger populations face the greatest risk.

Research indicates that almost three quarters of new HPV infections occur in people between 15 and 24 years old. But a recent study conducted by researchers at Texas State University found that many college students are unaware of or misinformed about the risks posed by HPV.

flickr.com/bgottsab

Texas added almost 19,000 jobs last month, the most of any state in the country - according to a report by the payroll and benefits company ADP.

More than 1,800 jobs will be added to June’s total.

flickr.com/69588216@N00/

The Alamo Bowl could soon be the biggest game in the Big 12 bowl season under a new six-year deal with the Pac-12 announced Friday.

Next year, top ranked Big 12 and Pac-12 contenders outside the new four-team college football playoff will face off in the bowl game that started in 1993. The Cotton Bowl had previously been the signature game for Big 12 teams that didn't make the Bowl Championship Series.

Barton Springs Pool
flickr.com/photos/rutlo/

The Austin Parks and Recreations Department is reviewing policies and procedures after an apparent drowning at Barton Springs Pool Wednesday night. It was the first drowning at the pool since 1990.

Parks and Recreation spokesperson Victor Ovalle said lifeguards immediately administered CPR on 21-year-old Timothy Guerra when his friends removed him from the spring's deep end.

KUT News

Scientists say Texas could have a bigger wildfire problem this year as drought conditions persist.

Hotter temperatures and drier conditions are lengthening the fire season, leading to larger, more frequent wildfires.

flickr.com/kasiaflickr

The Texas Department of Public Safety is part of a nationwide commercial vehicle inspection program going on this week.

The overall Roadcheck initiative will have specially trained troopers and investigators inspecting commercial vehicles for serious equipment violations involving brakes, tires, lights and drivers that aren’t in compliance with state and federal requirements.

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Update: Former Austin Mayor Bruce Todd is returning to the Travis County Commissioners Court.

County Judge Sam Biscoe has selected Todd to be interim Precinct 2 Commissioner, an office Todd held before he was elected Mayor of Austin in 1991. 

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