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.

Pages

Geographic Representation
7:20 am
Wed November 13, 2013

MAP: The Newest Changes to Austin's Proposed City Council Districts (Update)

A new map of Austin’s proposed council districts is ready for input, before final adoption later this year.
Credit Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission

Update: Austinites have just two more opportunities to weigh in on a proposed city council district map.

A citizens group is dividing Austin into 10 geographic districts. Starting next November, each district will elect one city council member. Everyone will vote on the mayor.

The district-drawing group is expected to approve the final map soon.

Wednesday's public meeting is at The Lodge on Dawson Road in south Austin. It starts at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday's public meeting is at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex on Hargrave Street in east Austin. It also starts at 6:30 p.m.

Click here to see an interactive version of the "official proposed final map" drawn by the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Read more
Veterans Day
7:33 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Texas Veterans Stepping Up to Fill Boots of Aging Agricultural Workers

Yvonne Martinez-Higgins and her husband William have put together a business plan and a logo for their family farm. But they admit they've found the process slow and difficult.
William Higgins and Yvonne Martinez-Higgins

Agriculture is big business in Texas. Statewide, it has a $100 billion dollar economic impact.

But the industry may be at risk. The average age of a Texas farmer or rancher is 59. And fewer young people are taking over the labor-intensive work.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has set up a program to assist aging agricultural workers in Texas. They’ve also identified a population that may be well-suited for taking over the work – veterans.

Read more
Halloween Floods
3:30 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Firefighters' Dog Rescue Goes Viral, But Pets Still Lost After Austin Flood

This photo of Austin firefighters Matt Harvey and Michael Cooper rescuing a dog named Panda went viral on Facebook – but the Humane Society has still yet to identify the dog’s owner.
Preston Culver, Austin Fire Department

More than 120 pets have been brought in to the Austin Humane Society since the city's Halloween floods.

Some were rescued from the water – as seen in this photo of a dog rescue that’s been shared 7,700 times on Facebook. Others were dropped off by their owners, who need a safe place for their animals to stay while they get back on their feet.

Humane Society spokesperson Kelly Hanes says dozens of animals have been reunited with loved ones. But many others remain unclaimed – including Panda, the German Shepherd-type dog seen hugging an Austin firefighter as he carried her from the flood waters.

Read more
Election 2013
7:23 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Texas Voters Approve All 9 State Constitutional Amendments

Proposition 6 creating a bank for state water infrastructure projects, attracted the most attention among constitutional amendments.

Texas voters approved all nine state constitutional amendments on the November ballot.

The issue that received the most attention was Proposition 6. It creates a new water fund with two billion dollars from the state’s Rainy Day fund.

Propositions 1 and 4 cut property taxes for disabled veterans or their surviving spouse.

Read more
Election
7:37 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Early Voting Underway: What Voters Need to Know for the Nov. 5 Election (Update)

The Travis County Clerk's office has launched a campaign, "Keep Calm and Vote On", to educate voters on the new voter ID law.
KeepCalmVoteOn.org

Updated Friday, November 1 at 7:37am: Early voting ends today for the Nov. 5 election.

There are 19 early voting locations in Travis County and several mobile locations.

What's On the Ballot:

Read more
Austin Film Festival Interview
12:27 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

At Austin Film Festival: 'Heaven' a Harrowing Look at Sex Trafficking

Ya'Ke Smith believes there room for his films as well as those made by filmmakers such as Tyler Perry.
Derrick Terrell Williams

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

There are plenty of funny and flashy films at this year's Austin Film Festival but also many that deal with what you might call "big issues."

A documentary about abortion was honored at the festival. Other documentaries track issues like immigration, obesity and a Jewish person converting to Islam. Some narrative films are also highlighting "big issues."

Ya'Ke Smith is the writer of the upcoming film "Heaven." It's a follow-up to Smith's critically-praised film "Wolf." It's part of a trilogy dealing with children and sexuality. "Wolf" is about a child who is molested by his pastor. "Heaven" is about a young woman who is manipulated into sex trafficking.

KUT's Laura Rice talked with Smith before a cast reading of that script on Wednesday.

Read more
Austin Film Festival
8:54 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Slideshow: Famous Faces at the 20th Annual Austin Film Festival (Update)

Actor Paul Sorvino on the red carpet for the Texas premiere of "Last I Heard."
Jorge Corona for KUT

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

The Austin Film Festival is underway. Many famous actors and filmmakers are in town for the event.

Update: If actor Paul Sorvino looks like a mobster to you, there's good reason. He's played those types of roles in movies such as "Goodfellas" and "Romeo + Juliet."

Sorvino was in Austin for the Texas Premiere of "Last I Heard." In the new film, he plays another mafia-type. But this story follows his exit from prison and his entrance back into modern life and into the lives of family and friends.

Update (Oct. 29, 7:20 a.m.): The new film by Joel & Ethan Coen had its Texas Premiere last night at the Austin Film Festival. The star of "Inside Llewyn Davis" – Oscar Isaac – was on hand to walk the red carpet. Music producer T-Bone Burnett also walked the red carpet outside of the Paramount Theatre. He's won multiple Grammy and Academy Awards for his work.

Read more
Austin
1:45 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Austin Audit Finds City Vehicles Spend Too Much Time in Repair Shop

The audit found the City of Austin especially has a hard time keeping emergency vehicles out of the repair shop.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

The City of Austin Auditor’s office says city vehicles seem to have a problem with breakdowns.

The vehicles aren’t always getting preventative maintenance and they’re spending more time in repair shops than the best practices standard.

Local politics news service In Fact Daily reports that the city’s Fleet Services Department doesn’t have enough repair space.

Read more
Austin Film Festival Interview
11:11 am
Tue October 29, 2013

MacGruber No More? Will Forte Takes Dramatic Turn in 'Nebraska'

Forte on the red carpet for the Texas Premiere of "Nebraska" at the Austin Film Festival.
Jorge Corona for KUT News

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

Will Forte of Saturday Night Live fame is probably best known for his character and film "MacGruber" – a mullet-sporting, inept version of MacGyver.

But the comedian takes on a serious role in “Nebraska” – a black and white film from director Alexander Payne about a father-son road trip. Forte is David Grant – a stereo salesman from Montana with a lackluster love life and a rocky relationship with his family.

Forte’s Grant is not only the straight-man through much of the movie but, in many scenes, seems to be the only sane-man.

KUT's Laura Rice talked with Forte before the movie's Texas Premiere at the Austin Film Festival.

Read more
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."

Read more
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.

Read more
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. 

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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."

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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?

Read more

Pages