Laura Lee

Managing Editor

Laura Lee is the managing editor of The State of Things. Born and raised in Monroe, North Carolina, Laura returned to the Old North state in 2013 after several years in Washington, DC. She received her B.A. in political science and international studies from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2002 and her J.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law in 2007.

Laura briefly strayed from her Tarheel allegiance in 2011 to obtain a masters degree in journalism from the University of Maryland where she was an Eleanor Merrill Fellow.  Prior to WUNC, Laura worked for NPR on the Washington desk, All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation. She was previously WUNC's assistant news director for talk programming. 

Ways to Connect

Image of US Capitol
ttarasiuk / Flickr Creative Commons

When Sen. Richard Burr declared his re-election bid last year, his odds looked good; he had had a large war chest and no clear opponent. But now, Democratic challenger Deborah Ross has emerged as a strong contender and polls show the two in a hot race.

Analysts are watching the race closely as it will play a significant role in determining which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii about the latest on the race.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, a 20-year old African American man was shot to death in North Raleigh. Tapes of the 911 calls  feature the accused shooter, Chad Cameron Copley, declaring himself a member of neighborhood watch who fired what he called warning shots that hit Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas. Copley said there were "hoodlums" on his street and told the 911 operator that he was going out to "secure" the neighborhood. Copley has been charged with first-degree murder. Host Frank Stasio talks with News and Observer reporter Ron Gallagher about the latest.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

A federal court ruling created uncertainty in North Carolina's election process when it overturned the state's controversial voting regulations. The law would have required photo identification, reduced early voting days and eliminated same day registration.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that measure violates the U.S. constitution, because it discriminates against African-American and Latino voters. Local Board of Elections are now making changes that advocates say do not comply with the ruling.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

North Carolina’s so-called bathroom bill, House Bill 2, was challenged in court Monday. U.S. district judge Thomas Schroeder heard arguments on a temporary injunction motion. He did not make a ruling on the measure.

And on Friday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down North Carolina’s controversial voter identification law on grounds of racial discrimination.

Big Book of Science Fiction

Science Fiction and fantasy have traditionally created worlds of aliens, robots and monsters of various sorts.

And there was a time when readers might have been stereotyped as nerds and geeks. But now sci-fi is exploding in the mainstream through digital media. And authors who were once niche writers are now mainstream.

Three leading writers in the genre read this Saturday at Malaprops Bookstore in Asheville as part of the Shared Worlds event. The event features authors who are participating in a youth program by the same name at Wofford College in South Carolina. 

Jedediah Purdy
Travis Drove

  This show originally aired on October 6, 2015.

In an era where humans and the environment are inextricably tied, how do we approach environmental politics, economics and ethics?

In what ways do the historical perspectives on the relationship between humanity and nature shape how policymakers approach current environmental issues like climate change and global warming?

The Republican Party has gathered in Cleveland to officially declare Donald J. Trump as the 2016 presidential nominee.

While Trump supporters hope to "Make America Great Again," many GOP establishment politicians opted not to attend the festivities. And Ted Cruz’s refusal to endorse Trump draws criticism from the crowd.

Screenshot from Zootopia
BagoGames / Flickr

From Jungle Book to Jaws and Babe to The Lion King, the stars of the silver screen are often not humans but instead are our four-legged friends. Though no animal has ever won an Oscar, viewers have embraced animal actors and characters in film.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie

Donald Trump announces Mike Pence will be his running mate in his bid for the White House.

Trump delayed the decision last night in the wake of the attack in Nice, France. He revealed his choice of the Indiana governor on Twitter earlier today. His decision comes as the Republican party gears up for its convention in Cleveland.

And on the Democratic side of the ticket, Bernie Sanders steps aside and endorses Hillary Clinton as the presidential nominee. Meanwhile, legal challenges to North Carolina's voter ID requirements continue in the courts.

Film Still: A girl awaits her train on a Tokyo subway platform. Tokyo is home to the world’s busiest metro system, with approximately 8.7 million daily riders.
Patrick Shen and Brandon Vedder

For some, silence is defined as the absence of sound. But a new documentary film, "In Pursuit of Silence," explores the many facets of silence. From religious meditation to the natural world, silence is an integral part of existence. And the noise of modern life may be damaging in physical, mental and emotional ways.

Photo of a police officer following the Dallas shooting
AP Photo/LM Otero

Five law enforcement officers were killed last night in Dallas. The murders happened at a protest in response to the killing of two black men this week by law enforcement officers.

On Tuesday, police shot and killed Alton Sterling while they held him down at a convenience store in Baton Rouge, La.

State Senator Tom Apodaca
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The General Assembly adjourned late Friday and lawmakers headed home.

They passed a $22.3 billion budget before they left, giving state employees a small raise and setting aside more money for the rainy day fund. They also made a small tweak to House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie

The United States Supreme Court issued decisions this week in several high profile cases related to abortion restrictions and immigration regulations.

The high court also agreed to hear North Carolina's redistricting suit. Their decisions could affect voters in November.

Photo: North Carolina's Old State Capitol building.
Soggy6 / Flickr

Lawmakers convened in Raleigh nearly a month ago for a short session to address the state's budget. But legislators have proposed measures on other items including bills on coal ash, light rail and sanctuary cities.

Also this week, Senator Fletcher Hartsell, a Republican from Concord, was indicted on charges of illegal campaign expenditures. The long-serving member in the Senate says he will not resign.

A completed Earthcasting installation in Portland, Oregon by sculptor Thomas Sayre.
Courtesy of MINNOW MEDIA

Sculptor Thomas Sayre tackles work that is exceptional.

His giant sculptures use the earth as a casting mechanism. Although his art is unusual, it is not solitary.

photo of a gun show in Houston
M&R Glasgow / Flickr

Democrats in the Senate hold the floor in a 14-hour filibuster designed to force a vote on gun regulations. The measures, expected for votes next week, would restrict gun purchases for suspected terrorists and expand background checks. But the likelihood of passage seems low as the parties disagree on how to enforce the measures.

Lion King
Jared via Flickr

From Jungle Book to Jaws and Babe to Lion King, the stars of the silver screen are often not humans but instead are our four-legged friends. For the Movies on the Radio on The State of Things, tell us your favorite animal film. Email us here with "Movies" in the subject line. 

The Ant Man

Jun 14, 2016
photo of Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith

The trail of ants across the kitchen counter may be a nuisance to some, but to biologist Adrian Smith, it is a fascinating phenomenon full of mystery. Smith studies the evolution of different ants and their social patterns. He also films the insects to document their intriguing characteristics.

Ryan Gibson of Raleigh is among the hundreds of people who filled a parking lot outside of the gay night club Legends in downtown Raleigh to support the victims of the Orlando shooting.
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Just one day after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, many questions remain.

Thus far, investigators have confirmed that on Sunday morning, alleged shooter Omar Mateen attacked a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and injuring 53 others. According to reports, Mateen pledged his allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call during the attack but no direct link has been confirmed between him and the terrorist group.

photo of Congress
Lawrence Jackson,

North Carolina held its second primary of the year Tuesday and voters cast their ballots for representatives in Congress and a seat on the state's highest judiciary.

photo of David Gilkey and Zabihullah Tamanna
Monika Evstatieva / NPR via AP

An NPR photojournalist and an Afghan translator were killed in Afghanistan this week by Taliban forces. David Gilkey and Zabihullah Tamanna were traveling in Southern Afghanistan when their convoy came under attack. Two other NPR staff were unharmed. David Gilkey is the second American journalist to die in the Afghanistan conflict.

photo of Jo Maeder

Since she was a little girl, Jo Maeder has loved radio. Her fascination became a career path and Jo became "The Madame," a popular deejay on several major rock and roll stations in Miami and New York.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie

Early voting is underway in North Carolina's second primary of the year. Two incumbent members of Congress face off against each other. Also on the ballot is a seat on the state's Supreme Court.

At the legislature, the Senate wraps up its budget proposal and lawmakers move behind closed doors to hash out a compromise between the House and Senate plans.

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest.

The Monti
Jessie Gladdek

When a volunteer storyteller takes the stage at the Triangle’s storytelling event, The Monti, the audience never knows what to expect. He might share a poignant tale about a complex relationship with a parent. Or she might prompt roars of laughter with the story of a first date gone wrong.

photo of the North Carolina Senate
Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC / Flickr

The North Carolina Senate reveals its version of the state's budget today.

Like the House plan, the Senate proposal raises teacher pay and other state employee salaries. And a Senate plan to change tuition structure at some state universities, including three historically black colleges and universities, is creating controversy. Plus calls for repeal of House Bill 2 continue with a rally of small business owners.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC capitol reporter Jorge Valencia about the latest.