Axios Austin

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Happy Monday.

🌧️ Today's weather: High of 77 with morning showers likely, then gradually clearing.

🗓️ Programming note: Look out for a special Axios edition on teen mental health this afternoon, and subscribe to Axios AM for free to get more essential national news.

Today's newsletter is 903 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Board issues abortion guidance

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The Texas Medical Board's proposed guidance on exceptions to the state's abortion ban does not offer doctors enough clarity, critics say.

Why it matters: The ban, which makes performing an abortion a felony, has led some hospitals to refuse to treat even patients with serious pregnancy complications — though the law makes an exception for medical emergencies.

  • Texans facing dangerous pregnancy complications have been forced to seek abortions out of the state.

Driving the news: The board's proposed guidance, unveiled Friday, defines a medical emergency as "a life-threatening physical condition" aggravated or caused by a pregnancy that "places the woman in danger of death or a serious impairment of a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed."

Details: The guidance does clarify that an abortion is allowed in the case of an ectopic pregnancy — the implantation of a fertilized egg or embryo outside of the uterus.

What they're saying: Sherif Zaafran, the board's president, said board members were hesitant to put out an exhaustive list of qualifications for a medical emergency exception because it could "cause more harm."

  • "It would hinder the ability of specific circumstances to be looked at in a way that would be fair to both parties," Zaafran added.

The other side: Austin attorneys Steve and Amy Bresnen, who made the initial request in January for the board to take up the rule-making process, both testified Friday.

  • "We think that you can do more than it seems that your proposed rule would do. In that sense, we're disappointed," Steve Bresnen said.

What's next: The Texas Medical Board's public comment period lasts for at least 30 days. Then, the board will hold a public hearing and may adopt the rule or make changes.

Dig deeper

2. Charted: Flight departure times

Share of flights departing on time from AUS
Data: Bureau of Transportation Statistics; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

82.8% of flights out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport departed on time in December 2023, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report from the latest transportation department data.

Why it matters: A lot of factors play into airline departure times, but with the airport the most prominent gateway to this booming city, Austin officials are keen to make the entire travel experience a positive one.

The big picture: More than 83% of domestic U.S. flights departed on time in December 2023.

Zoom in: Florida's Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (89.5% on time), Salt Lake City International Airport (89.2%) and Hawai'i's Lihue Airport (88.8%) had the best on-time departure performance in December 2023 among airports serving more than 1 million passengers annually.

  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (67.2%) and Baltimore/Washington International (69.5%) had the worst on-time performance.

✈️ Asher's thought bubble: You know you're finally off — and maybe you're a little exhilarated after all the hubbub of getting to and through an airport — when the captain announces, "Cabin crew, prepare for takeoff."

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3. 🤠 The Roundup: Wrangling the news

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A Hays CISD school bus involved in a crash Friday that left one child dead was not equipped with seat belts. (KXAN)

  • The district has canceled classes for today.

🏀 The University of Texas women's basketball team is into the Sweet Sixteen after defeating Alabama on Sunday, but the men's squad has been eliminated from the NCAA tournament. (Austin American-Statesman)

⚕️ A Texas maternal mortality task force hasn't counted abortion-related deaths for a decade. (Austin Chronicle)

4. Five questions with IBM's Nickle LaMoreaux

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Courtesy of IBM.

Nickle LaMoreaux, IBM's senior vice president and chief human resources officer, knows AI will transform jobs.

Driving the news: LaMoreaux leads IBM's employee experience strategy on a team that supports more than 250,000 employees, and recently spoke at SXSW about the future with AI.

  • LaMoreaux chatted with us about how the company leverages AI, responsible AI usage and the technology's role in the future of hiring.

Why it matters: As IBM bets big on its AI offerings, LaMoreaux revealed how the company is using the technology to train its own talent.

This conversation was condensed and edited lightly for clarity.

1. Do you think AI is disrupting how we seek job opportunities? How so?

"IBM has said for years that AI is going to transform every job. ... Companies will have to prepare employees for this change by providing them with the skills to work creatively and responsibly with AI. They will also have to think about how to move people who have been freed from routine work by AI into roles that are more fulfilling and impactful to the business."

2. How can companies be sure that AI won't perpetuate biases as it's used to identify talent?

"For companies that are looking to deploy AI in HR, it will be important to transparently show sources of information, and to work with governed AI in an augmented way that is not intended to replace human skills. At IBM, AI is there to augment human decision-making, never replace it. The AI we develop and deploy is ethical from the start."

Three more questions

5. ğŸŽ¨ 1 touch-up to go

John Fisher refreshing his East Austin mural on Saturday. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

Artist John Fisher is spending weekends this year retouching his masterful 1986 mural, painted on the side of the Carver Branch Library.

Why it matters: "Voyage to Soulsville," is a vibrant meditation on Black history and culture.

  • At the top of the image is Mahala Murchison who, at age 10, was perhaps the first recorded enslaved person in Travis County.

The bottom line: One could spend a long time absorbed in the moving, beautiful mural, dedicated to those who died on the Middle Passage.

Thanks to Chloe Gonzales for editing and Kate Sommers-Dawes and Yasmeen Altaji for copy editing this newsletter.

🚽 Asher is trying to figure out why anyone would want to buy this.

🌹 Nicole wants to know your thoughts on "The Bachelor" finale.

Kudos to Axios Austin reader Eric Bohanon, winner of our Friday News Quiz drawing. Eric, who has lived here a decade, tells us he's an amateur home cook who happens to be a software engineer.