Andrew Weber / KUT-Austin | KERA News

Andrew Weber / KUT-Austin

Andrew Weber is a freelance reporter and associate editor 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.

The Texas Office of Court Administration, which manages data for courts across the state, says it was the target of a ransomware attack late last week.


Daniel Wrapp is in debt to a llama.

He's never met her, but the UT Austin grad student has his fingers crossed that one day he'll be able to personally thank the 4-year-old llama named Winter, an unlikely linchpin in the fight against COVID-19.

With courts largely shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, attorney Steve Brand wasn't working at his usual breakneck clip.

Then on Sunday, that peace was disturbed.

It was the governor who disturbed it. Specifically, a statewide order on Gov. Greg Abbott's letterhead.

Seventy young adults are being investigated for COVID-19 exposure after taking a chartered plane to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for spring break roughly 10 days ago, Austin Public Health says.

Of those 70, 28 have tested positive for COVID-19, and dozens are under investigation by the public health authority; four had no symptoms.

Gun sales can continue even as cities and counties curb nonessential business in light of COVID-19, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said.

There they were, close to 30 of them, gathered around the bar, licking their wounds, talking about spreadsheets and orphans.

South by Southwest is canceled.

Mayor Steve Adler, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and public health officials said the concerns surrounding COVID-19 were too great.

Texas' first case of white-nose syndrome in bats has been confirmed.

The fungus that causes the disease was first detected in Texas bats in 2017, but the disease itself, which has killed millions of bats on the East Coast, hadn't been found by Texas Parks and Wildlife until Feb. 23 in Gillespie County.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Travis County Justice of the Peace for Precinct 5 Judge Nick Chu presides over court in 2018.
Gabriel C. Perez / 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.

The analysis out today from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University suggests Texas, a state that leads the country in incarcerations for failure to pay court debt, faces systemic challenges on the road to reform.

Crystal Harris cares about two things – a blanket and a teddy bear that belonged to her mother, who died two years ago. This morning, the 24-year-old homeless Austinite was prepared to fight for both of them.

Gov. Greg Abbott's office says it's forging ahead with cleanups of homeless encampments under overpasses in Austin.

Large and small cities in Texas are becoming increasingly vulnerable to measles outbreaks as more parents exempt their children from required vaccinations, according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

President Donald Trump spoke this morning after 29 people were killed this weekend in mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. Authorities say both shooters obtained their assault-style weapons legally, which has reinvigorated calls for federal action on gun control. 

Earlier this morning in a tweet, Trump called on Congress to pass legislation expanding background checks for firearms, but also suggested any reform be tied to "desperately needed immigration reform." 

Tuesday is the last day for public comment on a proposal that could evict or even separate thousands of families with mixed-citizenship status who receive housing assistance in Texas.

Federal immigration authorities say they arrested 52 people in Central and South Texas last week.

The arrests came before telegraphed operations in 10 major cities, including Houston, that President Donald Trump had touted. The president tweeted Saturday that he would delay the large-scale raids to give Congress time to make adjustments to U.S. asylum laws.

Texas is hot. That is not news. It has, seemingly, always been hot. Again, not news. Here is some news: A climate scientist visualized the Lone Star State's average annual temperatures. It shows that Texas (which, again – we've covered – is hot) is getting hotter.

An oxygen-sapping, fish-killing swath of algae is headed to Gulf of Mexico this summer.

The City of Austin has firmed up rules of the road for people riding rentable, dockless e-scooters. The city council unanimously approved the rules Thursday.

Nearly 200 people were injured because of rentable scooters between Sept. 5 and Nov. 30 last year, according to a first-of-its-kind study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Austin Public Health Department.

During that time, there were about 940,000 rides taken in Austin overall, according to the Austin Transportation Department. That results in a ratio of 20 injuries per 100,000 rides.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice will no longer share the last written words of death row inmates after criticism from a Houston lawmaker.

New numbers out today from the U.S. Census Bureau confirm something you’ve definitely known, noticed or complained about in the last eight years: Austin is growing.

But that growth isn’t confined to the Austin area.

The state’s labor regulator on Tuesday approved a controversial new rule on gig economy workers – a rule opponents say will have far-reaching implications for these workers going forward.

The former UT Austin men's tennis coach will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud for receiving money to recruit an unqualified student to the university's tennis team in 2015, the Department of Justice said.

Michael Center was put on administrative leave the day he was indicted on two charges of mail fraud for accepting $60,000 personally in the scheme and was later fired. He also received $40,000 on behalf of the university's tennis program, authorities say.

A national nonprofit says Texas’ system for putting holds on driver licenses is unconstitutional and is threatening to take the state to court as lawmakers decide the program's future this legislative session.

For years, short-term rentals – the rooms and homes on apps like Airbnb and HomeAway – have been the subject of lawsuits and hand-wringing on the part of regulators and people looking to rent out properties.

Workers' rights advocates called on the Texas Workforce Commission to abandon a proposed rule that would exempt gig economy contractors from unemployment benefits. They say the rule was crafted by industry lobbyists and could encourage businesses to adopt online-only models to dodge state taxes for worker benefits.

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