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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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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Texas
11:11 am
Mon June 10, 2013

With New Ads & Famous Friends, Perry Luring Jobs from NY, Conn.

In a new ad campaign, Austin-based Rodriguez calls Texas the “home of creative renegades.”
.texaswideopenforbusiness.com

Gov. Rick Perry is launching an ad campaign in Connecticut and New York, trying to lure businesses to the Lone Star State.

The move comes after Gov. Perry made similar efforts in California and Illinois. But this time, Perry’s taking his message to television screens instead of radio.

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Austin
8:09 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Report: More than 1 in 5 Austin Area Jobs Require STEM Skills

Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

More than 22 percent of Austin area jobs require specialized STEM skills. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

A study released by the Brookings Institution today shows Austin’s percentage of STEM jobs in 2011 was slightly higher than the national average of 20 percent.

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Arts and Culture
6:18 am
Mon June 10, 2013

UT Grad Wins Student Academy Award for Father-Son Film (Update)

Brian Schwarz wrote, directed and edited the award-winning film.
facebook.com/oldaddyfilm

Update: Actor Jason Schwartzman presented UT RTF graduate Brian Schwarz with the gold Student Academy Award medal Saturday night.

He's only the second UT student to win 'gold' at the Student Academy Awards.

In his acceptance speech, Schwarz did take time to thank the RTF department. He called it a department with "great faculty" and "an enthusiastic student body." He also went on to talk about Austin's supportive film scene.

Comedian Bob Saget hosted the awards.

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Austin
8:48 am
Fri June 7, 2013

City Council Passes Rental Registration, Paid Parental Leave

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

A debate over two Austin City Council proposals to track problem rental properties continued into the early hours of the morning.

After hearing from many Austinites about the issue, council members voted unanimously to pass an effort to create a registry for properties with a history of violations. A similar move to track all rental properties in certain parts of the city passed 5 to 2.

City employees will soon be able to take 30 days of paid parental leave.

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Texas
10:57 am
Tue June 4, 2013

TCEQ Needs More Time to Examine LCRA Water Plan

The LCRA is operating under emergency drought relief. Under those orders, most downstream rice farmers did not receive Highland Lakes water for their crops in 2012 or 2013.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is taking more time to review the Lower Colorado River Authority’s water management plan. The additional evaluation could take about a year.

The water management plan directs how the LCRA uses lakes Travis and Buchanan to meet the needs of water users. The state wants to meet with stakeholders and collect more data before approving the new plan.

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Education
8:12 am
Tue June 4, 2013

AISD Trustees Approve Plan for Eastside Vertical Team

TEA Commissioner Williams is expected to make a decision soon on whether to accept the district's proposal.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The Austin Independent School District Board approved a plan last night for the elementary and middle schools that feed into Eastside Memorial High.

Eastside hasn’t been meeting academic standards and could be shut down. In an effort to keep it open, the board approved a partnership with Johns Hopkins last month.  But that program’s plan didn’t include an outline of what should happen at feeder schools.

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Austin
6:07 am
Mon June 3, 2013

Matt's El Rancho Co-Founder Dies

Janie Gaytan Martinez, right, died Saturday. She's pictured with her granddaughter Audrey Glickert and daughter-in-law Estella Martinez.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

The co-founder of one of the oldest restaurants in Austin died over the weekend. Janie Martinez helped her husband open Matt’s El Rancho in 1952.

Martinez died Saturday at the age of 90. Her death comes almost a year after the Tex-Mex restaurant celebrated its 60th anniversary. Matt himself died in 2003.

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Education
3:24 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Graduation Time: Expect Frank Erwin Center Congestion

flickr.com/joshmaz

Expect traffic congestion around the Frank Erwin Center to pick up over the next couple of days as area schools celebrate high school graduations.

Westlake High School students will get their diplomas at the Erwin Center tonight. Three other high schools have graduations scheduled there on Saturday: Hendrickson High School (9 a.m.), Pflugerville High School (11 a.m.) and Connally High School (1 p.m.).

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AISD
12:01 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Hazmat Situation at Burnet Middle School


View Larger Map

Update: On Twitter, AISD officials say an attempted "acid bomb" was responsible for the evacuation. 

Original post (11:44 a.m.): The Austin Fire Department says five kids and three adults are being treated in a Hazmat situation at Burnet Middle School in Northwest Austin. The Austin Independent School District says the cause appears to be some sort of chemical substance found in a student restroom.

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Transportation
2:23 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

How SH 130's Credit Downgrade Could Actually Help Austin Drivers

SH 130 near Austin
www.flickr.com/jczart

The 85 mile-per-hour toll road that connects Austin with San Antonio is getting less traffic than planners hoped for.

In turn, Moody’s Investor Service lowered the credit rating of Cintra, the company that operates SH 130 toll road, by four grades. Moody’s says unless traffic increases significantly, the credit rating will continue to fall.

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2013 Legislative Session
9:01 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Redistricting: Battle Over Fair Maps at the Capitol, and in Court

Laura Rice, KUT News

The story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM.

The Texas Senate is holding a public hearing this morning on redistricting.

It’s a chance for people to tell lawmakers what they think about district maps drawn for state House, Senate and Congressional elections.

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Austin
6:05 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Austin's Food Trailer Migration: South Congress to South Lamar

The owner of Austin Frigid Frog Shaved Ice hopes his customers will follow him to South Lamar.
Laura Rice, KUT News

The story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM.

The food trailer park on South Congress was one of Austin’s most popular. But the trailers had to clear the lot this week to make way for a hotel and retail space.

Four food trailers made the two-mile move to a vacant lot at South Lamar and Bluebonnet Lane – including Austin Frigid Frog Shaved Ice.

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Lance Armstrong
1:02 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Nike Drops Livestrong Ties (Update)

Nike came up with the signature Livestrong wristband.

Update: Nike has produced merchandise with the Livestrong logo for nine years – raising more than $100 million for the foundation. But Nike will stop making the merchandise after this holiday season.

According to Livestrong Vice President of Communications & External Affairs Katherine McLane, Nike will stop production before the end of 2013 – that's before the contract ends in December 2014.

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