Reporting Texas
News and features from UT-Austin's School of Journalism

State News

‘I Can’t Let You Down’: How Mexican Truckers Are Easing U.S. Driver Shortage While Helping Their Families Back Home

For Juan Martinez and his truck, a trip usually lasts from Monday to Saturday, starting in Mexico and going north into the United States before returning home. He is one of thousands of truck drivers from Mexico, taking jobs to haul freight across the border under a 1991 commercial trucking agreement between the United States and Mexico.
The opportunity of a higher salary is driving more Mexicans with a B1 visitor visa to a profession that is constantly struggling with a worker shortage.
But the industry still needs 78,000 drivers, “The price of everything we buy is going to go up,” said a manager for trucking company, “because it’s going to cost more to move it, because we have less drivers that want to move it.”

Electric Vehicle Charging Set to Expand in Rural Texas in Next Five Years 

Planning a long-distance trip in an electric vehicle can be tricky, especially in rural parts of Texas where electric vehicle charging stations can be sparse.
Texas is working to improve rural access to charging stations. The Federal Highway Administration in September approved $408 million to help the state government to install EV charging stations along designated alternative fuel corridors. Those corridors are along interstate highways, such interstates 10, 20 and 35.
Texas received the most federal funding for the EV project through the Infrastructure and Investment and Jobs Act approved by Congress in 2021. California was second with an estimated $384 million for chargers. 

Harm Reduction Services Struggle to Tame Austin’s Accelerating Opioid Overdose Rates

With overdose deaths mounting, harm reduction groups are providing overdose reversal medications and other supplies to ensure safer substance use and generally healthier living. But the groups operate in a legal gray area. 
“This work is important for everybody here,” one clinic coordinator said after a day of outreach in his group’s mobile clinic. “Don’t you know we all can go to jail right now? Because everything that we do is illegal, technically. When I was doing the (safe syringe exchange) van, all of that stuff on there was illegal. But guess what? Ain’t never stopped me.”
The group takes its clinic van to several encampments each Tuesday through Friday, providing Narcan nasal spray, an opioid overdose reversal medication, safe smoke kits, needle exchanges, hygiene supplies, wound care kits and Plan B contraception pills.
“Fundamentally, harm reduction is about saving people’s lives and increasing safety around unsafe behaviors,” said one expert.

Amid Global Demand for Oil, Gulf Coast Town Grapples With Plans for Offshore Export Terminal

The seemingly laid-back island town of Surfside Beach has found itself at the forefront of oil industry expansion, as a plan to build the Sea Port Oil Terminal, known as SPOT, has divided the community.
The plan includes building an oil pipeline from Harris County through Brazoria County, across vacant lots in the village of Surfside Beach and connecting to a deepwater port 27 nautical miles offshore. 
The construction project is one of six new permit applications for offshore terminals in the Gulf of Mexico to export oil or natural gas to the global market. The permit for the Sea Port Oil Terminal has received more than 37,000 public comments, and a final decision on permit approval is expected this month from the U.S. Maritime Administration.

Nov 06, 2022

Political Action Groups Battle for Texas School Board Power Amid Fights Over Book Bans and Race

Battles over removal of LGBTQ-themed books from libraries and the teaching of race in Texas schools are moving to the ballot boxes in hotly contested school board elections. 

May 24, 2022

Amid Population Decline, Rural Texas Towns Look to Future

Despite Texas gaining more people than any other state in the past decade, more than half of its counties lost population, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

During the past few decades, changes in agriculture and the boom-or-bust oil and gas industry have led to dwindling employment opportunities in rural Texas. Many young people leave rural communities after high school in search of economic and social opportunity, often never returning.

“You start seeing what I describe as kind of a net out-migration of young people who age up through high school in their community where they grew up. And if they want to go to post-secondary education or they want to work in a job that’s, you know, potentially higher paying, they’re going to have to move to a more urbanized area,” Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter said.

That loss of young people, Potter said, has left aging populations in rural communities.

Apr 27, 2022

Lawmakers Press National Guard Leaders after Soldier’s Death

Texas lawmakers grilled the top brass in charge of the state’s border security operation Wednesday following the death of a National Guardsman who drowned trying to save migrants in the Rio Grande.  Spc. Bishop Evans, a 22-year-old from Arlington, went missing Friday at a border crossing near Eagle Pass, after he attempted to rescue two […]

Apr 19, 2022

Will Texas A&M’s The Battalion Survive if it Loses its Independence?

Advocates for independent student journalism worry that greater university oversight opens the door to censorship by administrators unhappy with student newspapers’ in-depth reporting.

Apr 17, 2022

Protesters Decry San Antonio’s Horse-Drawn Carriages as Animal Abuse

Protesters Saturday in downtown San Antonio criticized the use of horse-drawn carriages as animal mistreatment. 

Mar 11, 2022

‘The Cruelty is the Point,’ Planned Parenthood leader says in SXSW keynote targeting Texas abortion law

Hours after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state’s controversial Senate Bill 8 abortion law will remain in place, Planned Parenthood’s president delivered a searing rebuttal to the ruling Friday at South by Southwest.

Mar 05, 2022

Therapists: Calling Health Care for Trans Kids ‘Child Abuse’ Is Hateful and Dangerous

Central Texas counselors and psychologists who work with transgender adolescents say Texas politicians’ recent statements about trans therapy are an attempt to rile up voters at the cost of an extremely vulnerable community.   

Mar 02, 2022

As Texas Republicans Attack Gender-Affirming Health Care, Moms of Trans Children Say They’re Not Backing Down

Parents of transgender children in Texas say they are “freaking out.” They are unnerved by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive on Feb. 22 telling the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate reports of transgender youth in Texas receiving gender-affirming health care. Abbott’s letter contends that procedures such as hormonal treatments, gender-aligning surgery or the use of puberty-blockers is child abuse under state law. 

On March 2, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said it had filed a lawsuit to block Abbott’s directive. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a DFPS employee who is a parent of a transgender teenager and has already had an investigator come to their home.

Feb 28, 2022

After Statements From Texas Leaders, Protesters Take to the Streets for Transgender Rights

A student-led march for transgender rights briefly turned violent Sunday when an Austin police officer slammed a protester to the ground.

Jan 25, 2022

Texas Ukrainians Pray for Peace as Ukraine-Russia Tensions Escalate

Many Texans of Ukrainian descent are concerned with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troop buildup on the Ukrainian border and possible cyber attacks on Ukraine’s government, potentially signaling intentions to invade Ukraine.

On Jan. 23, the United States ordered Americans working at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine and their families to leave the country. 

Jan 22, 2022

Protesters Rally Against Oil Company’s Gulf Coast Expansion on Karankawa Site

 Chanting “respect our existence or expect our resistance,” nearly 400 people protested outside an Austin bank Saturday to try to stop construction of an oil terminal on ancient Indigenous land near Corpus Christi.

“We are still here, and we are still fighting,” said protest organizer Chiara Sunshine Beaumont, a descendant of the Karankawa people who once lived on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Saturday’s protest followed months of efforts by Indigenous groups in support of the Karankawa’s objections to expansion of oil export terminals owned by Enbridge, a Canadian petrochemical pipeline company. Beaumont said her group chose to protest Saturday outside a Bank of America on South Congress Avenue because the bank is a large underwriter of Enbridge’s projects.

Dec 13, 2021

Texas’ Famed Bigtooth Maple Trees Are Being Loved to Death by Deer

Since the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department opened Lost Maples State Natural Area to the public in 1979, thousands of people have enjoyed its colorful beauty in the Texas Hill Country. It has been particularly well-visited during the pandemic, with attendance reaching record highs.scientists have collected data indicating that the future of these trees and the pleasure many take from their color palette could be at risk. An overabundance of white-tailed deer has been killing young trees by browsing on them.

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