Laura Rice

Producer, Morning Edition

Laura joined the KUT team in April 2012. She works with Jennifer Stayton each weekday morning to bring you the latest local news during Morning Edition, hosts the noon newscast and reports for on-air and online. You'll also hear Laura with the morning news headlines on KUTX and filling in for Jennifer during the morning drive-time. 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.

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Education
4:50 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Public Hearing Tonight on AISD Bond

The Citizens' Bond Advisory Committee is coming up with a list of the district's top spending priorities.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin Independent School District’s Citizens’ Bond Advisory Committee is asking for public input on the district’s bond program this evening.

The committee is hosting a public hearing from 6:30 - 9 p.m. at Reagan High School (7104 Berkman Dr.).

Those wishing to speak should sign up at the high school before the meeting or submit comments on the district’s website.

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Formula 1
8:44 am
Tue October 23, 2012

Want to Run on the Circuit of the Americas Track?

The tennis shoe rubber could meet the road of the Circuit of the Americas track.
Circuit of the Americas

Travis County Commissioners are holding a public hearing this morning over granting a mass gathering permit to the Circuit of Americas and RunTex for a race at the track. But it wouldn’t be a Formula 1 race, or even a race involving vehicles.

RunTex wants to put on a 5k that would allow participants to run on the Circuit of the Americas track. The track course is 3.4-miles long, slightly longer than a 5k.

The event, planned for Saturday, Nov. 3, would also serve as a sort of open house and would allow attendees explore part of the COTA facility.

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Formula 1
12:29 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

Cap Metro Rolls Out Mobile Ticketing for F1 Week

Cap Metro is giving mobile ticketing a trial run over November's F1 race and South by Southwest next year, with an eye toward making it a permanent feature.
Capital Metro

Capital Metro is prepping for the traffic nightmare that’s likely to be Formula 1 weekend in Austin.

The transit company will be offering a free shuttle loop around downtown to help visitors and Austinites navigate road closures. Cap Metro will also increase trips to and from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, for race fans coming into town and locals heading out to avoid the mayhem. And, for the first time ever, MetroRail will operate on a Sunday.

But what may be most interesting to those who rely regularly on Capital Metro service is that the company is debuting a mobile ticketing app for use during F1.

M² (pronounced M-squared) stands for More Mobile App. Starting Oct. 31, the free app will be available in the Apple Store and in Google Play. While the specifics of how the app will work aren’t yet clear – Cap Metro’s description only says “Operators may request you to tap the screen to confirm pass authenticity” – riders will be able to purchase and use one-day or seven-day passes on their phones.

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Lance Armstrong
6:28 am
Mon October 22, 2012

It's Official: Armstrong Stripped of Tour de France Titles (Updated)

Armstrong has maintained that he never used performance-enhancing drugs.
Daniel Bayer, flickr.com/aspensnowmass

This morning the governing body of cycling—the International Cycling Union (UCI)—agreed to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) banned Armstrong from sanctioned competition for life and moved to take away his titles but it was up to the UCI to make the final call.

The Associated Press reports that Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, has previously stated that the Tour will recognize any decision on Armstrong by the UCI.  Prudhomme stated that should the UCI decide to strip Armstrong of his titles, the Tour's record books will show no winner from 1999-2005.

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Texas
8:47 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Abbott Sides With East Texas Cheerleaders in Bible Verses Case

A judge is expected to decide today if a group of cheerleaders can use Bible verses at public high school football games.
KUHF

A Hardin County Judge is expected to rule today on whether to allow a group of high school cheerleaders to continue to display Bible verses at football games.

The Kountze High School cheerleaders are seeking a temporary injunction after Kountze Independent School District officials told the cheerleaders they could no longer use scripture on banners. An atheist group complained about the displays.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says he’ll defend the East Texas cheerleaders.

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City Council
2:07 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Council Considers Changes to Short-Term Rental Rules, Fees (Updated)

This is no game: Rules governing the registration of short-term rental properties return to the City Council this week.
flickr.com/wwworks

Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2:07 p.m.:

The Austin City Council is already considering changes to the rules and fees surrounding the short term rental ordinance that went into effect Oct. 1. As of Friday, the city had issued just 19 licenses. Council wants to know if more people would comply if it were easier and less expensive.

But council member Laura Morrison said in a work session Tuesday morning that it may be too early to make changes at all.

"Responding to the growing pains of getting these registered immediately is just really problematic to me," Morrison says. "Until we get some feel for how things are working under our belts, otherwise, I can assure you there will be another set that we need to be working on soon."

Right now, those applying for a license have to do so in person. They also have to pay a $241 notification fee to send letters to neighbors within 100 feet of the property. The city’s Planning and Development Review Department is recommending that the fee be reduced to $50. That’s because the $241 flat fee is the standard for other city notifications—which require notifying within 500 feet.

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Formula 1
8:31 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Fire Chief Wants His District to Keep Some F1 Sales Tax Revenue

The red buildings represent ESD #11 fire stations. The green buildings represent Austin Fire Department stations.
Travis County ESD #11

The fire chief who leads the emergency service district around the Circuit of the Americas track is going before the Travis County Commissioners today to ask them to consider a tax deal if the track area is annexed by the City of Austin.

Fire Chief Ken Bailey leads Emergency Service District #11. Emergency service districts are entities created by the state to provide services to unincorporated areas, like the land around the Circuit of the Americas track. Bailey wants the city to keep the district in place, and let the district keep some of the sales tax revenue generated by the track to hire staff to respond to potentially increased calls.

Bailey says, right now, if the City of Austin annexes the track, the city would benefit from a 0.5 percent sale tax along with property tax revenue. Instead, Bailey is proposing that ESD #11 pay the city one-third of the district's 1.5 percent sales tax: equal, he says, for the city either way.

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Education
2:52 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

UT System Offers Free Online Courses - But College Credit Still Costs You

The University of Texas System logo is already featured on the edX welcome page.
edX

The University of Texas System Board of regents voted unanimously this morning to join an initiative to provide free online courses to anyone through a non-profit organization called edX.

Right now, classes offered through edX are not for college credit. Instead, participants can earn a "certificate of mastery." But the UT System has plans to change that in order to help enrolled students take the classes they need.

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa says that option would have a cost associated with it.

“What that tuition might be is going to have to be a decision made by the campus and, ultimately, by the board of regents," Cigarroa says. "So I can envision a multi-tiered approach. But, fundamentally, all the content that we provide in this massively open online course, you can have access for free, I can have access for free, our alumni can have access for free. But there’s also an opportunity for a multi-tiered approach.”

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Texas
10:44 am
Mon October 15, 2012

See an Emergency Vehicle? Move Over, or Get Pulled Over

Drivers who don't move over or slow down when passing emergency vehicles could face a fine.
flickr.com/webhostingreview

Law enforcement agencies across Central Texas are cracking down on drivers who ignore the state’s “move over” law.

When emergency responders are stopped on the roadway, drivers are required to move over a lane to pass or to slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. If the speed limit is below 25 mph, drivers are required to slow to 5 mph.

For the next three weeks, Austin Police Department officers and law enforcement officers from at 20 other departments say they will will target drivers who illegally pass emergency vehicles.

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Transportation
7:46 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Expect Long Lines at ABIA Today for Post-ACL Exodus

Taxis line up outside of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Ihwa Cheng for KUT News

Mondays are typically one of the busiest days at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. And officials say today will be especially busy—as folks who were in town for the Austin City Limits Music Festival head out.

ABIA officials are expecting longer-than-normal security waits—as much as an hour long. To have time to check in and go through security, the airport is asking everyone to arrive at least two hours ahead of their scheduled flight.

Tweets from early-morning travelers are confirming the airport's predictions:

"Airport is insanely busy today .. Like 400 people waiting in security ..," tweeted @austin_dsouza.

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Austin City Limits
4:43 pm
Sat October 13, 2012

What You Need to Know to Get Around this ACL Weekend

Fans crowd a stage at the 2011 Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Sean C. Murphy for KUT News

With 70,000 people making their way there each day, you can expect heavy traffic this weekend as people head down to the Austin City Limits Music Festival

Big delays around ACL host Zilker Park are a given. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Catch the Bus: Roads will also be closed around Republic Square Park at Fifth Street and Guadalupe Street to make room for Capital Metro's free ACL Shuttle at downtown. The shuttle drops off at ACL’s doorstep in Zilker Park.
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Transportation
12:16 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Cap Metro Wants Your Ideas for Fighting Traffic in North Austin

If MoPac really moved like this, Capital Metro wouldn't be funding a study on traffic in North Austin and its suburbs.
flickr.com/jorgemichel

Capital Metro is reaching out to residents in the suburbs north of Austin for input on possible transit options for connecting them to Central Austin. Cap Metro says it’s the number one transportation priority for the region. The big reason? A lot of people may live in Williamson County, but many of them work in Travis County.

Cap Metro has already heard from people during traditional open houses. Now, the transit company is seeking input through a website – what it’s calling an “Online Open House.”

The website lets visitors control what looks like a sort of power point presentation. It highlights a few problems: congestion, rapid population growth and the restraints of the current highway system.

But what Cap Metro says it’s really interested in is feedback. One of the most interesting forms of feedback that commuters can give is on the site’s “Interactive Map.” Website visitors are invited to draw in suggested transportation alternatives for getting around in the North Corridor during rush hour.

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Austin
9:23 am
Fri October 12, 2012

City Holds On to Rainey St. Land Near Cultural Center

Due to council action, the Mexican American Cultural Center won't have to contend with a nearby parking garage.
flickr.com/mirsasha

The Austin City Council voted late last night to remove a plot of land next to the Mexican American Cultural Center from consideration for sale or development. Instead, the City Manager will develop options for using the land for parks and recreation.

MACC officials asked the council not to sell the land for development because they feared it would limit the visibility of the center and impede its plans for future expansion. MACC Advisory Board Chair Juan Oyervides told KUT News earlier this week the board had expressed interest in the land earlier this year, and “were shocked to suddenly see a For Sale sign [on the property].”

The council will discuss by December what will ultimately happen to the land. Council also approved a broader resolution “directing the City Manager to develop a review process for potential real estate sales of City-owned land.”

Austin
1:06 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

You Can't Smoke at ACL (Even Though the Burn Ban's Lifted)

Attendees gather in Zilker Park for the 2011 ACL Music Festival- when a smoking ban was loosely enforced.
KUT News

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department has lifted the burn ban for all city parks. Department Director Sara Hensley cites recent rainfall and improving drought conditions for the change.

No more burn ban means grilling is now allowed in designated areas. Campfires are only allowed at Emma Long Metropolitan Park.

The city reminds everyone that fires should never be left unattended and should be fully extinguished when not in use. The city says a source of water should also be kept nearby.

Naturally, you won't be able to grill or build a campfire at Zilker Park during the Austin City Limits Music Festival. But more importantly, you also won't be able to smoke there.

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Texas
6:04 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Texas Inmate Put to Death After Court Reverses Reprieve

Jonathan Green's execution was blocked earlier this week but is now set to take place this evening.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Update: Thursday, Oct. 11, 6:04 a.m.:

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal to spare Green from execution. Green received a lethal injection Wednesday night before 11 p.m. The warrant for his execution was set to expire at midnight.

Jonathan Green was the 10th inmate executed in Texas so far this year.

Original Story: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 4:13 p.m.:

A Texas death row inmate is once again facing execution this evening.

Jonathan Green’s execution was blocked on Monday when a federal judge ruled on Monday that due process was violated in Green’s competency hearing.

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Lance Armstrong
2:52 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Details of Armstrong's Alleged Doping Outlined in 202-Page Report

Armstrong's attorneys have asked the USADA to release all its findings against their client, not just excerpts. The USADA's full report is expected today.
Daniel Bayer, flickr.com/aspensnowmass

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has released 202-pages of a report it is sending  to other athletic and cycling governing bodies today, Wednesday, Oct. 10 about Lance Armstrong's alleged doping. The report details what USADA says it's uncovered about the Austin cyclist’s use of performance enhancing drugs.

Armstrong has denied doping but stopped his legal fight against the charges in August. The International Cycling Union (UCI) will make the ultimate decision whether Armstrong will be banned from competition and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

In a statement about the report, USADA CEO Travis Tygart says the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team that Armstrong was a part of ran the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

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Arts and Culture
8:32 am
Wed October 10, 2012

The End of Trivia App 'Qrank,' One Tweet at a Time

Qrank players could compete against their Twitter and Facebook friends for bragging rights. The game closed shop this week.
Wells Dunbar, KUT News.

The social trivia game Qrank (pronounced "crank") is no more.

Co-founders and Austinites Rodney Gibbs and Michael Baird posted a  message titled “Goodbye” on the game’s website on Monday, and announced that that morning’s edition would be the last of the daily quiz.

Qrank had been voraciously consumed by a legion of loyal players since 2010. As explained on the game’s website, the goal was to “choose 15 of the 20 possible questions and answer them quickly and accurately to beat your friends and earn achievements.” The game was available on Facebook and as a mobile app.

But while Qrank maintained close to 25,000 “likes” on Facebook and more than 8,500 Twitter followers, interaction with all of those fans waned over the last several months.

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Education
3:19 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Student Could Face Jail Time For Hacking UT Registration Site

UT police say the student clogged the registrar website with information and requests, temporarily taking it offline.
Caleb Miller for KUT News

A University of Texas at Austin student is facing a felony charge for hacking UT’s computer system.

University police say 19-year-old Garret Phillips flooded the registration site with information in April, shutting it down temporarily when students were trying to sign up for summer and fall classes.

But UTPD Sgt. Charles Bonnet says no personal information was put at risk.

“The type of attack that was launched was just a flood of information into the site which caused it to crash. There was no effort to extract any kind of information or view any kind of information," Bonnet says.

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Business
2:31 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Commissioners Approve Tax Break to Lure Company to Austin

Travis County has joined the city and the state in offering economic incentives to HID Global.
Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Travis County Commissioners voted four to one this morning in favor of providing economic incentives to HID Global. The company makes ID cards and key-card readers.

HID Global is looking at building a manufacturing and distribution center in Northeast Austin. It would create more than 270 jobs over 10 years. In return, the county would give the company at least a 40 percent discount on county taxes over that time.

County Commissioner Ron Davis represents the area including Northeast Austin.

“I just think it’s overall a big deal all across the community and I think it’s a win, win, win, win, win, win-type situation for all of us," said Davis. 

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