Laura Rice

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.

From Texas StandardWhen Justice Louis Brandeis described the states as laboratories of democracy, he couldn't have foreseen election day 2016. As the New York Times noted Monday, the most popular illicit drug in the nation – marijuana – could be legalized for recreational use in five more states this November. That would bring the total number to 10, including Washington, D.C.

From Texas Standard:

In a time before reality TV competitions like American Ninja Warrior, more than 30,000 Texans would show up on Sundays in October to watch prisoners put on a death-defying rodeo show that would make professional cowboys think twice.

Underlying the spectacle of the Texas Prison Rodeo, which during its 50 years evolved into an entertainment event complete with superstar guests like John Wayne and Johnny Cash, were many of the civil, political and criminal justice issues that propel our conversations today – explored in depth in the new book, "Convict Cowboys: The Untold Story of the Texas Prison Rodeo."


From Texas Standard:

DallasBaton RougeNiceOrlando. It seems like we can’t go more than a few days without a violent event somewhere in the world. While it’s true these attacks are happening for very different and very complicated reasons – they keep happening. It’s almost hard to remember a time when they didn’t.

But when a shooter took aim at the University of Texas of Austin campus from the top of the UT tower on August 1, 1966,  no one had any reference point for such an attack. The Texas Standard spoke to people who were there that day as part of a documentary that will air Monday.


From Texas Standard:

There's something about toll roads that just isn't very fun. It's probably that part where you have to pay to drive on them. Of course, we help pay for the roads we drive on through taxes and other fees – but it's more in your face when you roll through the toll plaza.

At least one Texas lawmaker is urging the state to pump the breaks.

From Texas Standard:

Fifty years ago, the NCAA men's basketball tournament started with just 22 teams in the first round. When it came down to the championship game: on one side was the all-white Kentucky basketball team, as most college basketball teams were at the time; the challenger was Texas Western, an all-black team from El Paso – the university has since become the University of Texas at El Paso, or UTEP.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Photo via Flickr/plong (CC BY 2.0)

For the first time in a long time, the night of the Fourth of July in Texas will be red, white, blue – and green. That's thanks to abundant rain so far this year. The lower risk for wildfires means more types of fireworks are available for sale across Texas. And as the Texas Standard's Laura Rice reports, fireworks vendors are seeing more people interested in lighting up the night sky for this year's fourth.



The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows no part of Texas in severe drought and just a few small portions in moderate drought. It's the first time in almost five years the map has looked like this. Still, a bunch of rain doesn't mean all of the state's water concerns are behind us. From the Texas Standard


Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

In Texas... that old adage of avoiding mosquitoes at dusk and dawn no longer applies. That's because the state has mosquitoes that are also out and about in the middle of the day. And those are the type that carry a painful disease that's spread from South and Central America into Mexico and now, perhaps Texas. The Texas Standard's Laura Rice has more.



Photo via Flickr/SkyTruth (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Five years ago today, an explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed eleven people.  It also opened the chapter on what eventually would become the largest marine oil spill on record.


The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office says the deaths of 12 people responding to last year’s explosion at the West Fertilizer plant could have been prevented.

The Fire Marshal’s report [PDF] released Thursday night says the first responders killed in the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West,Texas  were not prepared or equipped to deal with such a dangerous situation.

The report says that is not because the first responders failed to perform their duties as they had been trained, but due to a “systemic deficiency in the training and preparation” of the firefighters.

Update: Today Cine Las Americas announced the award winners for the 17th Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. The grand jury awards went to:

  • Best Narrative Feature: MATEO, Dir. María Gamboa, Colombia/France
  • Best Documentary Feature: ROQUE DALTON, ¡FUSILEMOS LA NOCHE! (Roque Dalton, Let's Shoot the Night!), Dir. Tina Leish, Austria/El Salvador/Cuba
  • Best Narrative Short: PADRE (Father), Dir. Santiago 'Bou' Grasso, Argentina/France
  • Best Documentary Short: TRAZOS EN LA CUMBRE (Drawing on the Heights), Dir. Alejandro Victorero, Carlos Alejandro Molina, Venezuela

There's details on other winners and the audience awards on the Cine Las Americas website.

Original Story (April 22, 2014): The 17th Cine Las Americas film festival gets underway today.

The nearly week-long fest focuses on films by or about Latinos, indigenous peoples of the Americas and those from Spain and Portugal. They’re films you probably won’t see making the rounds later on in theaters.

KUT sat down with the festival’s Executive Director – Eugenio del Bosque to learn more.

How is Mack Brown spending his free time theses days? Check out his Twitter page for an update.

At a charity event for his Mack Jack and McConaughey foundation, joined by county musician Jack Ingram and Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, the former UT-Austin head football coach admitted he's enjoying some of the free time and freedom that comes with no longer coaching the Longhorns. And Twitter is a big part of that.

Early voting starts today for the May 10 municipal elections in cities across Central Texas.

Voters in Bee Cave, Manor, New Braunfels, Round Rock and West Lake Hills are choosing mayors and city council members. Several school districts are also holding bond elections. 

Early voting continues through Tuesday, May 6. Election Day for the municipal elections is Saturday, May 10. A valid photo identification is required to vote in person.

It has been a good several months for the University of Texas at Austin's Radio-Television-Film Department. Recent graduate Brian Schwarz won a Student Academy Award for his short film "Ol' Daddy," Texas Ex Elizabeth Chatelain won a prestigious documentary award for "My Sister Sarah" (story below) and now Annie Silverstein is going to Cannes with her thesis film "Skunk."

"My Sister Sarah" and "Skunk" are among the short films chosen to be highlighted in this year's Longhorn Denius Film Showcase – which features work by graduate and undergraduate students.

The showcase is free and open to the public. It starts at 6 p.m. at the Student Activity Center Auditorium on the UT campus.

Original Story (March 3, 2014): Elizabeth Chatelain graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Master’s degree from the Radio-Television-Film Department last May. In December, she won an International Documentary Association Award for her short film – "My Sister, Sarah."

The documentary follows Chatelain’s sister – Sarah – a recovering meth and crack addict who has felt true pain and tragedy.