Laura Rice

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. 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 Standard:

Lubbock saw the same summer spike in COVID-19 cases as much of Texas. And, like much of the state, those cases decreased for a while after. But they jumped back up again in recent weeks, says Covenant Health Regional Chief Medical Officer Dr. Craig Rhyne.

From Texas Standard:

For many students, starting a new school year completely online is an adjustment. For students experiencing homelessness, that adjustment will likely be even greater. And now, some homeless advocates worry that more students will experience homelessness and challenges with their education because of economic hardship resulting from the pandemic.

From Texas Standard:

Even as much of American life has been on pause over the past few months, a plan to move radioactive nuclear waste to West Texas continues forward, with the support of the federal government. The proposal for a facility at a remote part of the Texas-New Mexico border has been up in the air for years, but a new federal report says it should be approved because environmental risks are low.

From Texas Standard:

In the entomology world, the discovery of a new species means scientists also have the opportunity to name that species. In one recent case, the naming was easy. University of Texas at Austin entomologists discovered two species and named them "rodeo ants" because they ride on the backs of ant queens in other colonies.

From Texas Standard:

More money is about to flow into eight surveillance centers located across across the state. The Texas Department of Public Safety helps oversee these intelligence-gathering hubs, known as "fusion centers," but it doesn't talk much about what they do.

From Texas Standard:

Texas isn’t really known for its vast evergreen forests. You could count the piney woods in East Texas, but no one’s cutting those trees down for Christmas. But there is an alternative: For a short time over the holidays, tree farmers across the state open up their properties so Texans can choose and cut their own trees and get the feeling of an alpine experience.  

From Texas Standard:

Did you know that the monarch butterfly is the Texas state insect? They flutter through the state this time of year when they migrate from Canada to Mexico. But their populations are dwindling. What's more, entomologists are finding masses of dead monarchs, with their unmistakable black and orange wings, on the side of Texas highways.

Texas A&M University professor Robert Coulson led a study about monarch roadkill deaths, and says cars are just one more threat to the insect, in addition to changes in weather, pesticides and more. His team is tracking the number of dead monarchs in order to try to find ways to protect them in the future.

Getting pulled over by a police officer can be unsettling for anyone. But it can be especially stressful for someone with a communication issue.

Not being able to answer an officer’s question could put that person at risk if the officer misinterprets their behavior.

From Texas Standard:

In this installment of our "Spotlight on Health" series, we're looking at access to health care – something that can be a problem for many military veterans. 

Robert Wilkie, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, says wait times at VA clinics have shown "marked improvement" since 2014 when the agency was embroiled in controversy. In one example from that time, a Phoenix VA facility was criticized for having extremely long wait times. 

From Texas Standard:

Representatives from Texas food banks will gather at the Capitol on Tuesday to talk with legislators about food insecurity and lobby for ways the state can help. Food insecurity is a bigger problem than some may think. The term doesn't just describe people who are going hungry; it also describes people who don’t have the household resources to consistently buy healthy food.

From Texas Standard:

The changing news landscape has been a struggle for many local papers. The Associated Press cites a study that found some 1,800 newspapers have shut down in just the last 15 years. Many of those were community weeklies.

That's bad news for the newspaper industry, but Texas A&M professor Johanna Dunaway says it's also impacting our politics. She co-authored a study in the Journal of Communication that found newspaper closures polarize voting behavior, as evidenced by a decline in split-ticket voting.

From Texas Standard:

Texas is home to three types of oaks: red, white and live; all are susceptible to a deadly fungus called oak wilt. It's one of the most destructive tree diseases in the United States, and it's quickly changing the landscape of Texas – especially Central Texas.

Jim Houser, regional forest health coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service, says oak wilt has been an issue for longer than most people probably realize.

From Texas Standard:

Fiber: it's not just what's for breakfast anymore. Now, it also means a super-fast connection to the internet. In fact, a lack of fiber can be fatal when it comes to a particular city or town competing for business. Author Susan Crawford argues in her new book, “Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution – and Why America Might Miss It,” that not upgrading internet technology and speed on a local level is doing real harm to the nation.

Crawford says fiber-based connectivity will change everything, from how fast we can access the internet to the way health care is delivered and where we’re able to work and live. But cable companies and other private providers of internet access have not invested in fiber.

From Texas Standard:

For years, there's been talk about the growth of the craft beer business. Breweries have been popping up all over Texas to fill a thirst for locally made suds. But it's worth wondering whether we've reached a saturation point. In December, Big Bend Brewing announced it was suspending its operations and Noble Rey Brewing in Dallas just filed for bankruptcy protection.

From Texas Standard:

The college football season ends Monday night with the championship game between Alabama and Clemson. At stake are bragging rights and records, but also a lot of money and a coaching legacy.

From Texas Standard

As Election Day gets closer, the airwaves are getting more crowded with political ads. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and his challenger, Congressman Beto O'Rourke, in particular, have raised lots of money in their campaigns and are now spending it on TV and radio.

Austin-based Marketplace reporter Andy Uhler noticed some of the ads in English and Spanish are complicated by more than the issue of translation.

From Texas Standard.

Wild boars, feral swine – many call them feral hogs. But as lots of Texans know, they’re the source of much angst and misery. Feral hogs cause property loss of more than $1.5 billion nationwide, about a quarter of which is in Texas. And that may be a conservative estimate. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is stepping in with what it hopes is a solution.

From Texas Standard.

If you didn’t vote in this week’s primary runoff elections, you’re hardly alone. In fact, you are in the vast majority. According to the Texas Election Source, fewer than 1 million ballots were cast in both parties’ primary runoffs. For the Democrats, it was the lowest primary runoff turnout with a governor’s race on the ballot in almost a century. The Texas Election Source reports the Republicans actually had one of the highest turnouts for a runoff election year, but the percentage of voter participation was still just around 3 percent.

From Texas Standard.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor Map shows most of Texas is in some stage of drought. The worst of it is up in the Panhandle, but almost everything southwest of the Brazos is affected.

From Texas Standard.

Christopher Scott was sentenced to life in prison in 1997 for capital murder. He spent more than a dozen years behind bars before another man confessed to the crime and Scott was declared innocent. With his second chance at freedom, Scott teamed up with two other exonerated Texans to form a Dallas detective agency of sorts to help others who have been wrongfully convicted.

From Texas Standard.

Many of us have a cabinet or a closet at home with a stack of homemade VHS tapes – or those little tapes that went into newer-model camcorders – or maybe even Super 8s on little plastic reels. What’s on them may be personally worth keeping. But in the age of Blu-ray and digital files, will you ever watch them again?

From Texas Standard.

Every spring, wildflowers bring Texans and visitors alike out of their homes for all kinds of photo ops. It’s not uncommon to see dozens of cars parked along Texas highways as families pose in patches of bluebonnets.

From Texas Standard.

President Donald Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. The Texas Department of State Health Services says more than 1,100 Texans died from opioids in 2016. Cities and counties across the state have had to increase services to meet the demand.

From Texas Standard.

As we make the turn from 2017 to 2018, one of the big areas we ought to keep an eye on is the economy. The jobs Texans do in the future will look a little different than they have in the past. That’s of course in part due to the impacts of technology, but it also has to do with the needs of the community.

Dr. Ray Perryman, who heads the economic and financial analysis firm the Perryman Group in Waco, says the biggest gains will be in health care.

From Texas Standard.

There’s a city of sorts in the Texas Panhandle that really isn’t a regular city at all. It has a post office, a museum, and a church – but other than that, it’s mostly just homes, dorms, and school buildings. Boys Ranch, Texas is home to Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, a residential community for at-risk children. It’s been serving this purpose for close to 80 years. But now, some former residents say it’s Boys Ranch itself that really put them at risk.