Ashley Lopez | KERA News

Ashley Lopez

Ashley Lopez is a reporter for WGCU News. A native of Miami, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a journalism degree. 

Previously, Lopez was a reporter for Miami's NPR member station, 

WLRN-Miami Herald News. Before that, she was a reporter at The Florida Independent. She also interned for Talking Points Memo in New York City and WUNC in Durham, North Carolina. She also freelances as a reporter/blogger for the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

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Many Texans are struggling to afford health care, according to a new survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation.

The study found more than half of those surveyed (55 percent) said it is difficult for them and their families to afford health care; a quarter said it is "very difficult."

Texas voters are split on whether the U.S. Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision creating a woman’s right to an abortion in the U.S., a new survey finds.

Public Policy Polling conducted the survey on behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice America. It found that 47 percent of Texas voters don’t want to see the landmark ruling overturned. Fifty percent of those surveyed said they would be less likely to support their senator if he voted to confirm a candidate who would overturn Roe.

Abortion rights advocates in Texas say the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy raises the stakes for laws passed by the state Legislature.

Kennedy has been the swing vote on rulings upholding access to abortions in the U.S. for decades. Most recently, he voted to strike down a Texas law known as House Bill 2, which forced the closure of multiple abortion clinics across the state.

Civil rights attorneys say the Supreme Court's decision Monday in a Texas redistricting case showed how difficult it is to prove discrimination in voting laws.

The Supreme Court mostly sided with Republican lawmakers in the case, which challenged state House and congressional maps. Plaintiffs had argued lawmakers intentionally discriminated against minorities when they drew up the maps.

Immigration took center stage at the Texas Democratic Party convention in Fort Worth last weekend. Delegates from across the state are concerned about the Trump administration policy that was separating families at the border until it was reversed last week.

Groups working with immigrant families in Texas say a Trump administration policy to separate families at the Mexico border is creating a strain on their resources and they don't know how long it will continue.

Abortion providers across Texas filed a lawsuit in federal court today, challenging a slew of “burdensome” laws that have made legal abortions harder to obtain in the state.

Texans think the Legislature should expand Medicaid to more low-income people and make health care more affordable, according to a survey released today from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation.

Only about a third of kids in Texas are getting vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is linked to several cancers. The state ranks 47th in the country for its vaccination rate, according to the Texas Medical Association.

Pediatricians are warning that a federal policy separating parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border poses serious long-term health issues for children. In some cases, they say, the separation could cause “irreparable harm.”

Two-thirds of Texas hospitals offering maternity services are taking part in a statewide initiative aimed at reducing maternal mortality.

Public health experts in Texas are concerned that a growing number of American children are forgoing services like Medicaid and food stamps because their parents are undocumented. The trend could get worse, they say, if a proposed change to immigration policy goes through.  

Election administrators in Austin, Texas, are trying to put an electronic voting system in place before the 2020 presidential election that is more secure than anything else in the market right now.

There are widespread concerns that many of these voting machines are vulnerable to hacking due to aging equipment and design flaws. Following reports of Russian interference in the 2016 election, lawmakers say local governments need to start switching to more secure technology.

Congress is considering provisions in the latest farm bill that would roll back eligibility and impose strict work requirements for people receiving help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.  

About 3.8 million Texans rely on SNAP, the largest program for feeding low-income Americans.

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today in a consolidated case challenging Texas' House maps and congressional districts. Both sets of maps were struck down by federal courts last year after judges ruled they intentionally discriminated against black and Latino voters.

Texas has resettled dramatically fewer refugees in the past year, figures from Refugee Services of Texas show.

The organization said 3,518 people were resettled between October 2016 and March 2017. Between October 2017 and March of this year, only 736 were resettled. That’s a 79 percent decrease.

State researchers say a majority of maternal deaths reported in Texas in 2012 were coded incorrectly.

According to a study published Monday in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, researchers were able to confirm just 56 out of 147 obstetric deaths that year – that is, deaths occurring within 42 days of childbirth. 

Some of the state’s leading physicians vetted ideas this weekend to reduce the deaths of women while pregnant or shortly after giving birth.

A disability rights group in Texas sent out a survey last week, trying to figure out how many of its members became disabled due to gun violence. The group says it’s an effort to collect data that will help inform Texas lawmakers on how they legislate guns.

A surge in Democratic candidates in Texas could be a turning point for the party, experts say.

According to the Texas Democratic Party, a candidate is running for every congressional seat this year and for almost 90 percent of seats in the state Legislature.

In deep-red Texas, Republicans will have to fight for every seat in Congress during next year's midterm elections. For the first time in 25 years, Democrats are running in all of Texas' 36 congressional districts, according to documents filed with the Texas Secretary of State's office.

Those filings set a record for the number of Democratic challengers in an era of Republican dominance, says Mark Jones, political science fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute. It is a departure from 2016, he says, when eight Republican-held congressional seats went uncontested by Democrats.

A bill was sent to Gov. Greg Abbott last week that would eliminate straight-ticket voting in Texas. But opponents say the legislation could be headed to court.

Months ago, new Texas congressional maps for the 2018 election seemed like a pie-in-the-sky idea. The federal court looking at a lawsuit against the state’s 2011 map had sat on a ruling for years, and the case had gone unresolved for several election cycles.

During trips to their districts this week, Republican congressmen representing the Austin area will not be holding town halls, even though many constituents have been asking for them.

That hasn’t stopped groups from holding town halls of their own – even if the member of Congress they want to talk to isn’t there.

From the Texas Tribune: Texas' top Senate Republicans on Monday upped the urgency on federal policymakers to do something about the Zika virus.

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Florida's citrus industry has a new problem. It's long wrestled with crop diseases like canker and greening. But the effort to halt greening has killed millions of bees, as growers have increased their use of pesticides.

More than 200 manatees have died in Florida's waterways since January from an algae bloom called red tide, just as wildlife officials try to remove the marine mammal from the endangered species list.

It used to be boat propellers that were the biggest killer of manatees, but red tide has been especially bad this year.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officer Steve Rice routinely scours the Caloosahatchee River in southwest Florida for dead manatees. He has found more than 20 in the past few weeks.