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 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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Politics
6:39 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Listen: Lt. Gov. Dewhurst Calls to Get Relative Out of Jail (Update)

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: A spokesperson for Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says he was acting out of concern for a family member when he called Allen Police to see what he could to get a female relative out of jail. He says Dewhurst was careful not to ask Allen Police to do anything outside of their normal protocol.

But State Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) released a statement calling the move an "abuse of power." 

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real estate
1:11 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Austin Sold the Most Homes in its History Last Month

3,135 single-family homes were sold last month. That's 35 percent more than July 2012.
flickr.com/digallagher

The white-hot Austin real estate market just broke another record.

The Austin Board of Realtors says home sales were up 35 percent last month in the Austin area compared to last July. Some 3,135 homes were sold last month – the most homes sales ever recorded in Austin. And homes are selling faster – spending an average of 41 days on the market. A year ago, homes spent an average of 64 days on the market. 

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Austin
11:50 am
Tue August 20, 2013

The Average City Pool is 40 Years Old - Give Your Input on a Reboot

Swimmers take a lap in the Northwest Park (Beverly S. Sheffield) Pool.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The City of Austin wants to hear from people who use the city’s pools and splash pads – and from those who don’t.

The city is putting together an assessment of its aquatics facilities. The average age of one in Austin is about 40 years old.

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Austin
2:22 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Over 62,000 New STD Cases Estimated in Travis County

Condoms can drastically reduce the risk of several sexually transmitted diseases.
flickr.com/robertelyov

Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services says sexually transmitted diseases are costing Travis County residents lots of money.

The department says more than 62,000 new cases of STDs were diagnosed in Travis County in 2011 alone. That’s estimated to cost over $83 million in lifetime medical costs.

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Environment
4:34 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Today's an 'Ozone Action Day' – What You Need to Know

If required, the TCEQ will issue another air pollution watch by 3 p.m. today.
flickr.com/StuSeeger

Update: Today's the third Ozone Action Day of the year. Austin remains dangerously close to falling out of attainment of the clean air standard of 75 parts of ozone per billion. At last check, Austin was at 72.

“Being a non-attainment area it’s much harder to recruit business. It also accounts for a lot of absenteeism in schools because a lot of children have asthma and air pollution has been found to directly exacerbate asthma in children," Deanna Altenhoff, Executive Director of Clean Air of Central Texas, said.

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Amber Alert
4:01 am
Thu August 15, 2013

Amber Alert: Missing Central Texas Tot Found

Jaelyn Gucciana Johnson was last seen Aug. 5.
BeyondMissing.com

Update: Authorities say Jaelyn Johnson has been found safe and is back in the custody of her guardians.

Original Story (Aug. 14, 5:57 a.m.): Police in Copperas Cove, TX – just west of Killeen – have issued an Amber Alert for a missing toddler.

Jaelyn Gucciana Johnson is almost 3 years-old. She’s black and has black hair and brown eyes. She weighs about 40 pounds.

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Business
8:57 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Dell Vote Delayed Again: New Deal Includes Higher Offer, Voting Changes

Dell

A Dell Special Committee has reached a deal with founder Michael Dell. It raises his bid to buy the company by 10 cents per share but also changes some of the voting rules.

Instead of counting votes not cast as “no” votes, only votes that are submitted will be counted. This gives Michael Dell a better chance of getting his deal passed.

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City Budget
2:20 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

'Not Able to Keep Up:' Taxes, Fees Rise in Austin's Proposed City Budget

Construction cranes are a familiar sight in Austin nowadays. But despite record development revenue, taxes and fees will likely rise for Austin residents.
flickr.com/dingatx

A proposed budget for the City of Austin has the cost of living on the rise – again.

The proposed city budget for 2014, unveiled today, would mean about a $4 monthly increase for owners of a $185,000 home. And that doesn’t include additional rate and fee changes.

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Texas
12:21 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Judge in Fort Hood Case Rules on Evidence as Trial Nears

Bell County Sheriff's Department

The trial of the alleged Fort Hood shooter is set to start next week.

Army Maj. Nidal Hasan is accused of killing 13 people and wounding dozens of others in a shooting rampage at the Army post in 2009.

The military judge in the trial ruled Wednesday the government can’t use some evidence in opening statements. The prosecution wanted to use three alleged e-mails between Hasan and Anwar al-Awlaki – a man described as an al-Qaeda recruiter.

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Wildfires
6:43 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

200 Acre Wildfire Prompts Evacuations in Smithville (Update)

Smoke from the wildfire illuminated by a sunset
Kate McGee, KUT News

Update: Bastrop County officials say the STAR Flight helicopter is being brought back out to help extinguish some flare ups in the area. Earlier this afternoon, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative said it had restored power to all its customers.

The fire, now 252 acres, is 75 percent contained, according to Bastrop officials.

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Austin
8:09 am
Mon July 29, 2013

APD Detective Shoots, Kills Man

Police have blocked off roads in the area so crime scene investigators can gather evidence.
Trey Shaar, KUT News

Update: Over the weekend, Austin Police identified the man killed as 32-year-old Larry Eugene Jackson Jr. The Austin Police officer who shot him was Detective Charles Kleinert. Kleinert has been an officer for almost 20 years.

APD is looking for a witness who might have seen what happened between Jackson and Kleinert.

Original Story (July 26, 7:58 p.m.): A man is dead after he was shot by an Austin police detective Friday afternoon near the intersection of 34th Street and Shoal Creek Boulevard. Police describe the man only as African American. Police had not yet established his identity. No officer was injured in the incident.

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Police
12:37 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

APD Investigates Report of Gunmen at North Austin Movie Theater

Roads aren't closed around the theatre but traffic may be delayed.
Map Data @2013 Google

Update: Austin Police say a SWAT situation at the Tinseltown Theater has ended. No suspects were located.

Police are allowing employees of surrounding businesses to return to work.

Original Story (7:08 a.m.): Austin Police are asking people to avoid the Tinseltown Theater in far *North Austin. They’re investigating a report of two armed people in the theater.

Police say they got a call around 3:45 Monday morning from the theaters' cleaning crew. The three staff members say they saw two people dressed in all black enter the theater carrying long items – possibly weapons.

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Politics
11:19 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Gov. Perry Signs Texas' Sweeping Abortion Bill Into Law

Gov. Rick Perry shakes hands with State. Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, one of the sponsors of House Bill 2, on July 18, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a controversial bill into law this morning.

"It is a happy, celebratory day, and so many of you in this audience are the reason we're here today," Perry said. "In signing House Bill 2, we celebrate and further cement the foundation on which the culture of life in Texas is built upon."

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Business
8:30 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Dell Decision Day: Today's Vote on Buyout Delayed (Update)

Dell employs about 14,000 people in Central Texas.
flickr.com/philschatz/

Update: Dell is delaying a vote on founder Michael Dell’s offer to buy the company and make it private. The vote was scheduled to happen this morning – but is being pushed back – likely because major shareholders don’t support the deal.

Reports say the vote has been rescheduled for later this month.

Original Story (6:14 a.m.): It is decision day for Dell shareholders.

They are scheduled to meet this morning and vote on whether to accept a buyout offer from company founder Michael Dell and the private equity firm Silver Lake Management that values the computer maker at $24.4 billion.

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