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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Austin Film Festival
7:24 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Interview: Susan Sarandon on Her Career, Family and New Phase of Life

Sarandon shared a picture of herself at Austin's Mexic-Arte Museum.
@SusanSarandon

Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon has a storied career of longer than four decades. She was in Austin this weekend to receive yet another accolade.

The Austin Film Festival honored Sarandon for her “extraordinary contribution to filmmaking.”

KUT’s Laura Rice talked with Sarandon shortly after she accepted her award.

On Being Honored for Her Overall Achievements:

"I would like it to be a mid-life achievement award because I get nervous getting on a plane after a life achievement award."

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Austin Film Festival
7:35 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Hundreds of Volunteers Take a Starring Role at the Austin Film Festival

Adolfo Bernal puts his computer skills to work in registration for the Austin Film Festival.
Laura Rice, KUT News

Disclosure: KUT is a media sponsor of the Austin Film Festival.

Actors, writers and directors will be making their way to Central Texas over the next week for the Austin Film Festival.

The 20th annual festival will screen more than 180 films and feature more than 80 panels with industry pros.

About a dozen staffers work year-round to make it all happen. But the Austin Film Festival also relies on hundreds of volunteers. A contingent of those volunteers have been doing this for years – and donate countless hours to the fest.

Sara Ricke has been volunteering with the Austin Film Festival for the past seven years. And it’s safe to say, she loves it.

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Transportation
3:48 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Travis County Commissioners Support Long-Delayed SH 45 SW

The proposed 4-lane toll road would connect FM 1626 in Hays County and MoPac in Travis County.
Texas Department of Transportation

Travis County Commissioners have approved a resolution by a vote of 4-to-0 supporting the construction of State Highway 45 Southwest.  Commissioner Gerald Daugherty pushed for the resolution, after campaigning on getting the roadway built. He says population growth and traffic congestion demands action. And he believes the road could be built while protecting natural resources, despite a pending environmental review from TxDOT and push-back from environmentalists and stakeholders in the area. 

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West Plant Explosion
11:30 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Investigation Into West, Texas Explosion Stopped Due to Shutdown

An apartment complex near the West Fertilizer Plant was destroyed in the April explosion.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The government shutdown has halted the federal investigation into the West Fertilizer Plant explosion. The explosion in April killed 15 people and injured hundreds of others.

“Some of the brightest scientists in the world are home today rather than doing their work to protect, and give us information so that we can have the right rules and regulations to protect our environment,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-MD, said during a press conference yesterday. “The monitoring and enforcement is not being done as it should be done.” Cardin chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife.

The ranks of furloughed workers includes most employees on the Chemical Safety Board, which investigates industrial accidents such as the West Fertilizer Plant explosion.

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Commissoners Court
8:53 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Despite Perry Veto, Travis County Bills State for Public Integrity Work

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg in 2008.
KUT News

Travis County is going to bill the State of Texas for some work done on the Public Integrity Unit. Travis County commissioners approved the plan Tuesday.

The Public Integrity Unit deals with white-collar crimes from across the state. It had been paid for with state funds, but Gov. Rick Perry vetoed that money when Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign after pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated.

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Technology
7:05 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Startup Week: What Does Austin Need to Become a Legitimate Tech Hub?

Capital Factory founder and executive director Joshua Baer says Austin is in the cycle to becoming a tech hub.
Laura Rice, KUT News

It’s Austin Startup Week – when the technology community invites people to visit to see why they should start their business in Central Texas. But is Austin a legitimate tech hub?

KUT’s Laura Rice put that question to Joshua Baer – the founder and executive director of the tech startup incubator Capital Factory:

Is Austin a Legitimate Tech Hub?

"I meet people every day and every week who are moving here, that picked up and are moving their whole company here from Silicon Valley or from New York or from somewhere else. But these things don't develop overnight. They don't even develop over the course of one or two years. Really, the lifecycle of a tech company is five to ten years. So to get through a few cycles of that, you're talking 20 to 30 years. That's how long it takes to build up a tech community. Silicon Valley? They've had that going for a long time. Austin? We're still a little earlier in that cycle – but we're in that cycle."

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Geographic Representation
7:25 am
Mon October 7, 2013

MAP: Here's the Rough Draft of Austin's New City Council Districts (Update)

A detail of initially proposed city council districts for Austin. Feedback on the districts will be incorporated into a final map drafter later this year.
City of Austin

Update: The group of Austinites in charge of drawing geographic city council districts is meeting this evening for the first time since approving a preliminary map.

The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is splitting the city into ten parts – each will be represented by a city council member.

But some people have expressed concerns that the districts the commission has drawn so far don’t accurately represent communities. For example, right now, District 7 runs along Mopac from North of Parmer Lane to Lady Bird Lake.

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Government Shutdown
7:43 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Six Ways a Federal Government Shutdown Affects Austin (Update)

Congress will be working up to the midnight hour tonight to avoid a government shutdown.
flickr.com/kptripathi

Update: The federal shutdown has happened and it's affecting some Central Texans.

All three presidential libraries in the state are closed – including the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin. The San Antonio Missions and Big Bend National Park are also closed.

At Fort Hood, some civilian workers are now on furlough and many services on the post are either shut down or scaled back – including the commissary. Right now, the medical center at Fort Hood will be open at least through the rest of this week.

NASA employees – including those at the Johnson Space Center are also being affected.

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Austin Film Fest
1:06 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Austin Film Festival 20th Anniversary Lineup Features More Premieres Than Ever

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in "12 Years a Slave," one of this year's Austin Film Festival features.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Austin Film Festival has released the full lineup of films slated for this year's event. AFF says this 20th anniversary lineup features more world and U.S. premieres than ever before in the festival's history.

At the top of the lineup is "Inside Llewyn Davis." The new film by Joel and Ethan Coen won the Grand Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It stars Oscar Isaac as the title character. Isaac will be in Austin for the festival. Academy and Grammy Award-winning music producer T-Bone Burnett will also be in attendance.

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Traffic
8:20 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Expect Slow Traffic on 71 at Southwest Parkway for a While

Map Data @2013 Google

Traffic may be moving slower on SH 71 this morning around Southwest Parkway. And it’ll probably be that way for the next eight months or so.

SH 71 is reduced to one lane in each direction while crews work to widen the road.

The Texas Department of Transportation is adding turn lanes, an acceleration lane and paved shoulders to 71 at Southwest Parkway. TxDOT says the project will increase safety in the area.

TxDOT warns drivers should plan for possible delays in the area.

Islam
5:01 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Interview: Texas Should Teach Terrorism Lurks in All Radical Faiths – Not Just Islam

Professor Deepa Kumar says people of all faiths could gain something for her lecture on the construction of the "Muslim enemy."
flickr.com/glenscott

Wednesday marked 12 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks. The attacks thrust radical Islam into the spotlight and arguably ushered in an era of Islamophobia. But do stereotypes about Muslims actually go back much further?

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Dell
9:36 am
Thu September 12, 2013

Dell Shareholders OK Buyout Offer (Update)

Michael Dell at the Web 2.0 Summit in 2011. The Dell founder's bid to buy back his namesake company is expected to be successful.
flickr.com/kevinkrejci

Update: Dell stockholders approved Michael Dell's buyout offer this morning, according to a preliminary vote tally.

“I am pleased with this outcome and am energized to continue building Dell into the industry’s leading provider of scalable, end-to-end technology solutions,” Michael Dell said in a press release announcing the vote.  You can read that release here

Original post (9:06 a.m.): Dell shareholders are set to vote this morning on a nearly $25 billion buyout offer from founder Michael Dell. After several postponements, this time, the deal is expected to pass.

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Labor Day Wildfires
6:50 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Memories Not Extinguished: Two Years Since Labor Day Wildfires

Crews fight the Bastrop Wildfire in September of 2011.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Today marks two years since the start of the Labor Day wildfires – the worst in Texas history.

The fires in Bastrop, Pflugerville, Spicewood and Steiner Ranch in September of 2011 killed two people, destroyed 1,600 homes and burned tens of thousands of acres of land.

KUT produced an oral history titled “Forged in Flames” last year for the first anniversary of the fires. Go to KUT.org to hear the documentary, produced by KUT's Emily Donahue and the KUT News staff.

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Arts & Culture
5:33 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Five Things You Should Know About Brain-Altering Software

William Hurley, aka whurley, says brain-altering software could someday allow all of the knowledge of, say, Kung Fu to be 'zapped' into a person's head.
Laura Rice, KUT News

Technology is improving – and fast. The next frontier for some software designers is the human brain.

William Hurley, or “whurley," is the co-founder of Austin-based mobile studio company Chaotic Moon.

1. Brain-Altering Software Already Exists:

"Currently there are things that are considered brain-altering software. Sites like Lumosity and things like that where you do brain training and different activities."

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Austin
9:05 am
Mon September 2, 2013

2013 Labor Day Lowdown: Water Rules, Road Closures, No Refusal & More

Get out your paddles: Kayaks are cool on Austin waterways this Labor Day, but not motorized vehicles.
KUT News

Another Labor Day is here in Austin. Here’s a rundown of street closures, holiday schedules, rules for the road and more:

Road Closures:

Several downtown and South Austin streets are closed or partially-closed this morning for a triathlon.

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Texas
8:08 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Texas Has Highest Percentage of People Without Health Insurance

CDC/ Debora Cartagena

Texas continues to lead the country in the percentage of uninsured people under 65. That has been a trend for at least the last five years.

The latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show more than one in four people under 65 did not have health insurance – that was more than 5.7 million people in 2011.

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Education
7:56 am
Wed August 28, 2013

AISD Board Approves Budget, Domestic Partner Benefits

A view from Austin ISD's headquarters on W. 6th St.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Austin Independent School District employees will start to learn more today about adding an unmarried partner to their health insurance benefits.

The AISD board approved last night expanding benefits to people a district spokesman calls the “unmarried, committed” partners of regular, full-time AISD employees.

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Education
5:53 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Odds Stacked Against Four-Year College Graduation

Just over half of entering UT-Austin college freshmen graduate in four years – and that's the highest rate at four-year public colleges in Texas.
KUT News

A new school year starts today for the more than 50,000 students at the University of Texas at Austin. Students at St. Edwards, Huston-Tillotson, Southwestern and Texas State also started classes this week.

But how many of those students are prepared for college success and on-time graduation? The numbers don’t look so good.

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Texas
4:48 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Justice Dept. Suing Texas Over Voter ID Law

After the Supreme Court overturned part of the Voting Rights Act, Texas immediately implemented a Voter ID requirement.
clockwise from left: Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News, flickr.com/sarowen, KUT News

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the State of Texas over its voter ID law.

It's the DOJ’s latest attempt to require Texas to get federal approval before making changes to its election laws. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act in June. It got rid of Section 4 – the formula that had required some states, including Texas, to get preclearance from the federal government for any changes to voting procedures.

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Austin City Council
10:17 am
Thu August 22, 2013

At Austin City Council: Property Tax, Budget Hearings; Tweak to 10-1 Council; Google Fiber & More

Creating criteria for which charities will receive free Google Fiber access is one of the 126 items on the Austin City Council agenda today.
Wells Dunbar, KUT News

The Austin City Council convenes today to another crowded agenda. Here’s a rundown:

  • Sound off on the proposed city budget, property taxes and fees

Lots of council action won’t happen until much later today: Several public hearings are set for this afternoon related to City Manager Marc Ott’s proposed city budget, which the council is currently discussing. There’s public hearings on the proposed property tax rate, Austin Energy and Austin Water rates, and additional proposed fee increases (trash, drainage, etc.)

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