Laura Rice

Producer, Morning Edition

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.

Ways to Connect

Rafael Castillo/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas StandardWhen Justice Louis Brandeis described the states as laboratories of democracy, he couldn't have foreseen election day 2016. As the New York Times noted Monday, the most popular illicit drug in the nation – marijuana – could be legalized for recreational use in five more states this November. That would bring the total number to 10, including Washington, D.C.

Courtesy Kino Lorber

From Texas Standard:

For more than 50 years, journalists, authors and everyday people have been struggling with how to tell the story of the 1966 University of Texas at Austin tower shooting. It was the first public mass shooting on a college campus, resulting in the deaths of 16 people.

Erik Hersman/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Today's the last day to register to vote in Texas in time for the November election. Some county registrar offices are staying open until midnight to give people as long as possible to complete the process, but most will close at the end of the business day.

In Texas you can check online to see if you're registered, but you can't actually register online and some 3 million Texans are eligible to vote but not registered. Complicating matters, according to a new report in the magazine "The Nation," is a labyrinth of laws putting up barriers so difficult to surmount that nobody wants to invest in helping more voters register.


Kenneth C. Zirkel/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

He was a businessman who liked to brag about his financial success, cracked rape jokes around reporters and kissed "just about every woman within arms' reach."

She was a Democrat who shattered many ceilings, with real-world political experience and demanded that her opponent disclose his taxes.

These two also wouldn't shake hands.


Texas.713/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In a time before reality TV competitions like American Ninja Warrior, more than 30,000 Texans would show up on Sundays in October to watch prisoners put on a death-defying rodeo show that would make professional cowboys think twice.

Underlying the spectacle of the Texas Prison Rodeo, which during its 50 years evolved into an entertainment event complete with superstar guests like John Wayne and Johnny Cash, were many of the civil, political and criminal justice issues that propel our conversations today – explored in depth in the new book, "Convict Cowboys: The Untold Story of the Texas Prison Rodeo."


Screenshot from Voyage of Time

From Texas Standard:

Anyone familiar with the work of Austin-based director Terrence Malick knows he’s unafraid to tackle big questions. The example you’re probably most familiar with is “Tree of Life.” The 2011 film is not your typical family drama. It looks at the existence of a higher power and the origins of the world.

phickmanfresh/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Sheriff Arvin West is the law in Texas’ Hudspeth County. It certainly seems that way to unsuspecting travelers along his county’s stretch of I-10. He’s known for accusing the Mexican army of invading the border, ragging on the federal government on border security policies and busting more than a few entertainers for carrying pot (Willie Nelson, Nelly, Fiona Apple and Snoop Dogg are on the list).

West, now tied to a three-year-long federal investigation, isn’t talking. But a Washington Post report reveals he may be involved in setting up a rogue Navy training based in West Texas.


Left: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)/Right: Third Way Think (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

It used to be that people concerned about the state of political coverage in America worried about the constant obsession with who's ahead.

This year, both sides are fixated with landing the nastiest punch, one blow that will decisively take out the other. It almost happened in 1988, during the Vice Presidential debate when Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, a Democrat, quipped to his Republican rival, Sen. Dan Quayle of Virginia: "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."


Courtesy Simon & Schuster

From Texas Standard:

Wolf Boys” explores how a couple of Texas teenagers went from playing under the Friday night lights to working as assassins for Los Zetas, one of Mexico's most dangerous drug cartels.

The book reads like fiction, but it's a true story written by former Wall Street Journal reporter Dan Slater.

Nate Lampa/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas began a strategic plan to reform the foster care system in 2014, but the overhaul is still in the early stages of rollout. The plan has been moving forward without much fanfare, at a time when Child Protective Services is taking a lot of heat for some high-profile tragedies.

The biggest change is a shift away from investigation efforts – the CPS worker who comes knocking on the door asking questions – to a public heath approach aimed at strengthening families and reducing the number of serious injuries and fatalities.

The plan puts a heavy emphasis on the staggering cost of child abuse and the need to be smarter about resources – to use big data as never before. 


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

This story is part of the NPR project "A Nation Engaged," which takes a deeper look at economic opportunity in 21st century America. 

DarkoStojanovic/Pixabay (CC0)

From Texas Standard:

The ACLU and ACLU of Texas are getting involved in a lawsuit over a regulation in the Affordable Care Act. In August, Texas filed a lawsuit against federal regulations that prohibit healthcare discrimination against people who are transgender. The lawsuit was announced by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing the Franciscan Alliance. The lawsuit will be heard in Wichita Falls.

The rules state that healthcare entities are not allowed to deny or limit services – including gender transition services – based on race, national origin, sex, age or disability.


Joe Diaz/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

The United States Census Bureau dropped new data this week, as part of the American Community Survey, a yearly estimate of a plethora of different topics concerning American households, including numbers on healthcare, income, and poverty.


Screenshot from

From Texas Standard:

Until now, Lucy’s death has been a mystery. She’s the famous 3.2-million-year-old fossil scientists say is one of the oldest skeletons of an erect-walking human ancestor. Her bones were discovered in Ethiopia back in 1974 but we didn't know how she died. 

Bill Lile/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Walmart sells everything from guns to grapefruit. But right now, it can't sell liquor – at least not in Texas. The mega-retailer is going to court to change that, but liquor store owners are fighting the effort, alongside the state of Texas.

Some of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's rules preventing Walmart from selling liquor date back to the end of Prohibition. But the big-box store corporation argues the rules amount to unconstitutional discrimination.

From Texas Standard:

Much has been said of Texas' top rank when it comes to the administration of the death penalty. Notwithstanding the state's record, the state still reserves the ultimate punishment for what most of us would consider the worst of the worst crimes. One man set to die this month in Texas killed a correctional officer while he was behind bars for murder. Another was the trigger man in a murder-for-hire.

But the third man actually didn't kill anyone. Jeff Wood pulled no trigger and had not even planned to commit a crime that morning – and yet, he's scheduled to die later this month.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

From Texas Standard:

DallasBaton RougeNiceOrlando. It seems like we can’t go more than a few days without a violent event somewhere in the world. While it’s true these attacks are happening for very different and very complicated reasons – they keep happening. It’s almost hard to remember a time when they didn’t.

But when a shooter took aim at the University of Texas of Austin campus from the top of the UT tower on August 1, 1966,  no one had any reference point for such an attack. The Texas Standard spoke to people who were there that day as part of a documentary that will air Monday.


Can Bats Conquer Zika?

Jul 12, 2016
Flickr/mzmo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

You've probably heard bats by the hundreds, flying out of a cave or from under a bridge. But have you heard a bat solo, squeaking to be fed?

"She can chew and talk all at the same time," Dianne Odegard says, talking to the female bat she's feeding. "It’s the middle of the day, you’re not that hungry."


From Texas Standard:

Early in the morning on Sunday, June 12 a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 more at an Orlando gay nightclub. The lone shooter used a rifle similar to an AR-15 – a Sig Sauer MCX, which was originally designed for the U.S. Special Operations forces.

The tragic event sparked further outrage over the United States’ current gun control laws, which allow these types of guns to be purchased by the public.


Pexels (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

It's been a nasty news cycle, dominated by images from Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, a modern cosmopolitan hub connecting the west to the Middle East. Turkey has worked hard to cultivate an image as a haven in a dangerous region. So even though 41 people were killed and more that 200 injured in yesterday's suicide attacks, the airport has reopened, almost as if making a statement.