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
6:29 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Austin Rep. Mark Strama Resigns to Run Google Fiber Rollout (Update)

State Rep. Mark Strama is leaving politics for a tech job.
Spencer Selvidge via Texas Tribune

Update: Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced a special election to fill the State House of Representatives seat formerly held by Austin State Rep. Mark Strama will be held Nov. 5.

Strama resigned late last month to become the head of Google Fiber in Austin. The person elected will serve out the rest of Strama’s term – which expires in January 2015.

Original Story (June 26): Democratic Austin State Representative Mark Strama is leaving politics to become the head of Google Fiber in Austin.

Strama announced earlier this year that he’d be resigning his seat in the Texas House. At the time, he was considering running for Austin mayor.

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Transportation
6:22 am
Thu July 11, 2013

MetroRail Service Behind Schedule After Tech Problems (Update)

Trains weren't running because of "a technology issue this morning in Capital Metro’s IT server room."
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Update: Capital Metro’s MetroRail Service is back up and running this morning. But trains are running behind schedule because of a technology problem earlier this morning.

Capital Metro says the first train will depart from Leander at about 6:50 a.m.

A Capital Metro spokesperson says crews will work hard this morning to get back on schedule.

Original Story (6:22 a.m.): Capital Metro’s MetroRail Service is down this morning because of a technology problem.

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Austin
2:33 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Study: Families Need At Least $67,000 to 'Get By' in Austin

The money needed for a family of four to live modestly in Austin is $4,000 more than the national median.
flickr.com/fiftypercentchanceofrain

A family of four needs to bring in around $67,000 a year to get by modestly in the Austin area.

That’s according to the recently-updated budget calculator put together by the Economic Policy Institute. The calculator takes into consideration things like housing, food, childcare and transportation.

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Arts and Culture
5:35 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Heard of Tugg? Austin Startup Changes How People Go to Movies

Gonda says movie theatres like Tugg because many screenings are on weeknights – when they're more likely to have open seats.
tugg.com

There’s a screening tonight in Austin for a movie you probably haven’t heard of.

It’s not part of a film festival or a private event. It's happening in prime time at the Alamo Drafthouse on Research Boulevard.

"’GrowthBusters' is an independent documentary film that brings attention to the fact that we’ve outgrown the planet and it’s time to embrace the end of growth," Director Dave Gardner said.

"GrowthBusters" is Gardner's first big documentary. As a small fish in the big pond of the movie industry, he has limited options for getting it on movie screens. So he turned to an Austin-based startup: Tugg.

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Politics
6:53 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Senate Committee Wraps Testimony on Texas Abortion Bill

The line of those wishing to testify in the Capitol Extension. DPS estimates over 1,700 people waiting in line, some of whom have been waiting since early this morning.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

Update: The Senate Health & Human Services Committee public hearing on Senate Bill 1 wrapped up just before 2 a.m. Tuesday. Senators did not vote on the bill.

Original Story (July 8, 10 a.m.): The Senate Health & Human Services Committee is holding a public hearing today on a bill that would limit access to abortions in Texas.

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Texas
6:06 am
Mon July 8, 2013

Texas National Guard Furloughs Go Into Effect Today

Texas Military Forces officials say furloughs could 'negatively affect essential capabilities that state officials and first responders rely on in disaster situations.'
flickr.com/texasmilitaryforces

Update: Furloughs start today for full-time employees of the Texas Army and Air National Guard.

The employees will have to take 11 non-consecutive unpaid days off between now and Sept. 30 as part of federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

The National Guard has announced that, along with the furloughs, most military commissaries will be closed on Mondays through the end of September.

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Politics
12:01 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

House Committee Cuts Off Debate, Passes Texas Abortion Bill (Update)

Stephanie Argos, left, and Griselda Melgares of Katy, Texas, came to the Capitol to support House Bill 2 on July 2, 2013.
Veornica Zaragovia for KUT News

Update: A Texas House panel voted early this morning along party lines to pass a bill to put more restrictions on abortion in the state. While the committee heard hours of testimony, more than one thousand people who signed up to speak, weren’t given the opportunity.

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Austin
6:00 am
Fri June 28, 2013

Austin Study Highlights LGBT Housing Discrimination

Michael McCrory says his former landlord wanted him to apply for disability benefits for being transgender.
Laura Rice, KUT News

The City of Austin and the Austin Tenant’s Council are hosting a community forum Saturday focused on housing discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.

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Traffic
1:18 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Smell Bacon? Truck Full of Pork Bellies Catches Fire, Closes I-35

Update (4:30 p.m.): Austin Police are warning that I-35 southbound could be closed through the evening:

Original Story: Southbound Interstate 35 is shut down just past Riverside because a semi truck is on fire. 

Austin Police and Fire crews have moved southbound traffic to the access road.

AFD spokesperson Palmer Buck estimated the closures may be in effect until rush hour. Northbound traffic is also backed up because of onlookers.

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Politics
6:54 am
Mon June 24, 2013

Texas House Tentatively OKs Abortion Restrictions

People against proposed abortion restrictions gathered in the rotunda of the Texas Capitol.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

The Texas House gave preliminary approval to one of the most controversial bills of the 2013 special session – Senate Bill 5. The House is reconvening this morning.

Among its provisions, the measure would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and would only allow abortions to take place at facilities that meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.

Democrats offered a number of amendments – stalling the vote until after 3 a.m. One amendment related to scientific evidence that disputes the claim that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks.

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Politics
8:05 am
Fri June 21, 2013

Hundreds Denied Chance to Speak at Texas Capitol Abortion Hearing

People for and against House Bills 16 and 60 filled the hearing room.
twitter.com/grrlforfashion

Hundreds of people who had signed up to testify at a Texas House Committee hearing on abortion restrictions yesterday didn’t get to speak. Committee Chairman Byron Cook closed testimony after 3 a.m. Friday.

The House Committee on State Affairs was considering legislation that would require abortion facilities to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The committee didn't vote on the bills.

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Austin
6:56 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Should Austin Bury I-35? Proposal to Reconnect City Gets New Look (Update)

Here's a potential view of I-35 after proposed Cut & Cap plan.
Sinclair Black & Andrew Vernooy

Update (June 20): This morning Austin City Council members decided to go ahead and approve a resolution supporting a I-35 National Environmental Policy Act study for a plan to reconnect East & West Austin by submerging it from approximately River Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

Council also directed the City Manager to develop an economic impact study and look at associated financing options.

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Politics
10:03 am
Mon June 17, 2013

House Committee Preview: West, Redistricting, TWIA Finances

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

The Texas Legislature has just over a week left in its special session.

Today, House Committees will meet on a variety of topics including permanent election maps, oversight of the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion and the financial condition of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.

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Education
5:36 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Westlake Graduate Honored in DC as Presidential Scholar

Keyur Mehta with former Westlake High School Principal Linda Rawlings.
Eanes ISD

Listen to the interview as it aired on KUT 90.5.

Less than one percent of high school seniors across the country are named National Merit Scholars. Less than one-tenth of one percent of students who take the ACT, score a perfect 36. And just four high school seniors from Texas were recognized as Presidential Scholars on Sunday.

Keyur Mehta – a recent Westlake grad – has earned all of these honors and more. He stopped by KUT before his trip to Washington, D.C.

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Transportation
4:17 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Cesar Chavez Partially Reopened After Sinkhole Surprise (Update)

Crews inspect the sinkhole near the corner of Cesar Chavez and Sabine Streets.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: Cesar Chavez Street is now open to eastbound traffic, but one westbound lane is still closed as crews finish work on a sinkhole found this morning.

The cement used to fill the hole has very little water and dries quickly, but is not expected to be fully dry until after rush hour.

Original post (12:17 p.m.): Westbound Cesar Chavez Street is closed from I-35 to Red River after a sinkhole formed near Sabine Street.

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