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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U.S. Senate
1:50 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

U.S. Senate Candidates Square Off Tonight

Cruz, Leppert, James and Dewhurst will face off in a debate tonight.
Photo by Allen Otto, Texas Tribune

Tonight the top Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate will meet in Dallas for a televised debate.

The debate will feature Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert and former SMU Football star and ESPN commentator Craig James. The candidates are vying to fill Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat. Hutchison has announced she will not seek another term.

Jim Henson is the Director of the Texas Politics Project at UT Austin. He says the debate represents the first time that the U.S. Senate race has taken the full spotlight. It’s been overshadowed by the struggle to set a primary date and by the GOP presidential nomination.

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AM Update
8:38 am
Fri April 13, 2012

AM Update: Officer Padron Buried in San Angelo, Adult Stem Cell Rules, Senate Debate Tonight

The Honor Guard carries Officer Padron's casket at memorial services on Wednesday.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

APD Officer Killed in the Line of Duty to be Buried Today

Today, APD Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron will be buried in San Angelo. The local funeral will begin at 10 a.m., followed a procession to Lawnhaven Memorial Gardens where Padron will be laid to rest.

Padron was remembered in Austin on Wednesday with a funeral, police honors service and procession.

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Austin
12:54 pm
Thu April 12, 2012

Percentage of Low-Income Austin Residents Up

The Community Dashboard report aims to measure the social, heath, education and economic well-being of the area.
Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The percentage of low-income residents in Austin is going up. That’s according to the Community Action Network’s third annual Community Dashboard report, released this morning.

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Police
10:33 am
Wed April 11, 2012

Watch Funeral of APD Officer Live Online

Hundreds of police officers are expected to attend the funeral.
Photo for KUT News by Nasha Lee Lee

Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron will remembered today in a service at Shoreline Church at 15201 Burnet Road. The public is invited to pay their respects.

For those who cannot attend, the funeral will be available to watch online on the church's website.

Immediately following the service, the congregation will exit the church and attend a police ceremony on the lawn which will include a police air unit flyover and a final radio call.

Padron's body will then be taken to San Angelo for burial.

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Health
4:16 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

Teen Birth Rates Down in Texas

The number of babies born to Texas teens is at lowest level in decades.
Photo courtesy Liz Davenport via Flickr

The rate of teen pregnancies in Texas fell by 15 percent from 2007 to 2010.

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the number of 15 to 19 year-old girls having babies in Texas dropped from nearly 62 in every 1,000 to about 52 per 1,000.

54,281 Texas teens gave birth in 2007. That number went down by 6,530 to 47,751 in 2010.

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AM Update
8:46 am
Tue April 10, 2012

AM Update: MoPac Improvement Money, Pflugerville Utility Rates, Tornado Damage in Dallas

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority hopes to gain funding for the MoPac Improvement Project.
Photo by flickr.com/alphachimpstudio

MoPac Improvement Plan Makes Move for New Funding

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has offered a preliminary proposal to acquire $135 million for the MoPac Improvement Plan.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) notified Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization board (CAMPO) of an unexpected funding windfall of $135 million. During a CAMPO work session last night, CTRMA requested that they receive the new funding to begin the improvements to MoPac.

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Transportation
1:46 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

Pensions, Benefits at Stake in Cap Metro Labor Dispute

Capital Metro union members want to keep their current pension and retirement plans.
Photo by KUT News

There will soon be some changes at Capital Metro. Riders probably won’t notice but many drivers and mechanics will.

Capital Metro is required to change its labor structure after the Texas legislature passed a law, Senate Bill 650, last May that basically requires transit workers to either become state employees or become employees of a competitively-bid private contractor. 

To receive federal transit funding, Capital Metro employees initially needed to retain their right to collective bargaining, but the requirement was at odds with state law prohibiting collective bargaining and the right to strike for public employees. A third-party, StarTran, was installed to resolve the impasse – but SB 650 did away with that arrangement.

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Crime
6:20 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

APD Officer Killed, Another Injured in Separate Officer-Involved Shooting

Austin Police are mourning the loss of one of their own
KUT News

Update (5:49 p.m.): 24-year-old Brandon Montgomery Daniel has been charged with capital murder after allegedly shooting and killing Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron last night. In a press conference at 5:00p.m. this evening, Police Chief Art Acevedo said Daniel moved to Austin from Fort Collins, Colorado about a year ago.

Acevedo also noted that this was the first time during his tenure as Police Chief that two officers were involved in deadly encounters in the same day. "This is the most trying day of my five years here," said a teary-eyed Acevedo. "There are a lot of tears flowing, there is a lot of hurt."

Acevedo praised the Wal-Mart employees who were able to detain Daniel at the scene after the shooting. "That selfless act is the beginning of the healing process for this department."

Update (12:24 p.m.): Details continue to emerge about Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron, and the shooting last night at an area Wal-Mart that took his life.

In a fundraising email soliciting contributions for Officer Padron’s family, The 100 Club of Central Texas says:

A former Marine, Officer Padron had been with APD for more than three years. Prior to that, he had been a Bergstrom International Airport police officer and before then served 14 years with the San Angelo Police Department in West Texas. He leaves behind two daughters, ages 10 and 6 as well as parents and other family members who live in San Angelo.

At a press conference this morning, APD characterized Padron’s shooter as an Asian adult male. The Network of Asian American Organizations issued the following statement this morning:

As you are aware, early this morning a man believed to be Asian shot and killed Austin Police Officer Jaime Padron at the Walmart on Parmer and IH-35.

On behalf of the Network of Asian American Organizations and the Asian community, we would like to send our condolences, thoughts and prayers to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Padron. The NAAO fully supports the Austin Police Department and the City of Austin.

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Food
11:01 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Today is 'Top Chef Paul Qui Day'

Qui posted this photo of the certificate on his Twitter account yesterday.
Photo courtesy pqui via Twitter

Today is "Top Chef Paul Qui" day in Austin.  Mayor Lee Leffingwell presented Qui with a certificate declaring the honor yesterday.

Earlier this year, Qui won the ninth season of Bravo's "Top Chef" – known as "Top Chef: Texas."

Qui posted a picture of the certificate on Twitter. It states that Qui represented Austin and the State of Texas admirably and has an official seal. Qui told Eater Austin the honor was "cool. I did not expect that at all."

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Austin
12:36 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Austin One of Fastest Growing Metros

Austin is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country, says the U.S. Census Bureau.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

The news comes as no surprise to locals: the Austin area is still growing — and fast.

New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show the population of the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area was the second fastest-growing metro area in the country between April 2010 and July 2011.

In just that 15-month period, the population went up by 3.9 percent—that’s a gain of more than 67,000 people and put the total population at close to 1.8 million.

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AM Update
8:55 am
Thu April 5, 2012

AM Update: Governor Perry Touring North Texas, Nidal Hasan Trial, Assault Suspect Arrested

The aftermath of severe weather which produced multiple tornadoes in North Texas.
Photo Courtesy of National Weather Service

Governor Perry to Tour Tornado Damaged Areas

Governor Rick Perry is scheduled to take an aerial tour of the Dallas-Fort Worth area damaged by tornadoes today. Perry plans to tour Lancaster, one of the hardest hit areas by the storms, according to the Texas Tribune.

The National Weather Service estimates up to a dozen tornadoes touched down in North Texas on Tuesday—one of those tornadoes was rated an E-F-3 with winds of up to 165 miles-per-hour.

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Culture
1:42 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Hispanic or Latino? Most Spanish Speakers Say Neither

A recent study found American Hispanics prefer to identify with their country of ancestry.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/carlandkalah

"Hispanic," or "Latino?"  Turns out, most Americans of Spanish-speaking origin don't find either term specific enough.

A survey released by the Pew Hispanic Center this morning shows more than half of those surveyed want be known by their family's country of origin: 51 percent surveyed said they preferred to be called "Mexican" or "Argentinian," for example.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, just 24 percent  say they use the terms "Hispanic" or "Latino" most often to describe their identity. And 21 percent  say they use the term “American” most often.

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