Emily Ramshaw Editor

Emily Ramshaw is the editor of The Texas Tribune. Under her leadership, the Tribune has won six national Edward R. Murrow Awards, IRE's Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism and a general excellence award from the Online News Association. Before coming aboard as one of the Tribune’s original reporters, Ramshaw spent six years at The Dallas Morning News, where she broke national stories about sexual abuse inside Texas’ youth lock-ups, reported from inside a West Texas polygamist compound, uncovered “fight clubs” inside state institutions for the disabled and investigated a series of deadly transplants where patients received rabies-tainted organs. The Texas APME named Ramshaw its 2008 Star Reporter of the Year.

Recent Contributions

Helmet Manufacturer Challenges Repair Practices

Whether reconditioned football helmets sufficiently protect young players from concussions and other serious injuries has become a subject of fierce debate. Texas parents are torn between the desire of their kids to play and increasingly hard-to-ignore studies about the relationship between football and long-term brain damage. Coaches struggle to balance safety with fans’ cries for harder hits, bigger players and crushing wins. And at least one upstart manufacturer is contributing to the public's unease by challenging the industry’s long-standing practice of refurbishing old helmets.

After Monitor Departs, A Teenager Is Killed

The same Houston-area residential treatment center where staffers forced disabled girls to fight each other — prompting child welfare officials to halt admissions and hire a safety monitor — is now under fire for the asphyxiation of a 16-year-old boy who died Friday after a restraint was applied by a staffer in a closet.

Yes, the GOP Wave Turned Out to Be a Tsunami

Rick Perry won his third full term as governor of Texas on Tuesday, defeating former Houston Mayor Bill White by a convincing double-digit margin and positioning himself for a role on the national stage. And he led a Republican army that swept all statewide offices for the fourth election in a row, took out three Democratic U.S. congressmen and was on its way to a nearly two-thirds majority in the Texas House — a mark the GOP hasn't seen since the days following the Civil War.

An Interview With Former First Lady Laura Bush

The former first lady on life in the Governor's Mansion vs. life in the White House, her newfound freedom living in Dallas, why she kept her personal politics out of her husband's presidency, the role she's playing at the Bush Library, the two works of fiction she's reading now and her fondest memories of the Texas Book Festival, which she launched when she was living in Austin 15 years ago — and whose annual gala she'll headline tonight with a reading from her best-selling memoir, Spoken from the Heart.

Budget Shortfall Forces Big Cuts for Disabled

Barbara Cullison does her daughter Audrey's hair. Audrey, who is autistic, risks losing her Medicaid waiver services because of state budget cuts.
Barbara Cullison does her daughter Audrey's hair. Audrey, who is autistic, risks losing her Medicaid waiver services because of state budget cuts.

Advocates say the Department of Aging and Disability Services’ baseline budget request eliminates financing for more than 13,000 people — the majority waiting to receive Medicaid waiver services. Agency officials will only say that an “unknown number” of people already receiving the services could lose them. It's unclear if lawmakers can make these cuts without risking losing federal funding; federal health care reform requires states to maintain coverage at the same level it was when the Affordable Care Act became law in March.

An Interview with Arc of Texas President Clay Boatright

Clay Boatright, the new president of the Arc of Texas
Clay Boatright, the new president of the Arc of Texas

The new president of the Arc of Texas on why the disability community’s rallying cry to close state-supported living centers has become trite and ineffective, why the movement's messaging should be upgraded (employing everything from the iPad to the Bible) and why businesses and faith-based groups should be mobilized to fill the gaping holes in government services.

Do Scandals Necessarily Get Incumbents Defeated?

Double-billing taxpayers for travel expenses, driving a luxury car owned by a state transportation contractor and repeatedly failing to pay taxes won’t put a lawmaker in good standing with the ethics police, as state Reps. Charles “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco; Joe Driver, R-Garland; and Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, are finding. The three hope the headlines dogging their re-election bids won’t follow them to the polls, while their Democratic opponents are reveling in their misery at every campaign stop. Yet whether a scandal forces an incumbent from office depends on the scenario.

High Court: Broken Bed Falls Under Malpractice Cap

Is a hospital bed an integral part of medical care? As a federal judge considers the constitutionality of Texas’ 2003 medical malpractice reform — and Gov. Rick Perry campaigns for more lawsuit restrictions — the state Supreme Court has ruled that hospital injuries seemingly unrelated to doctor error can fall under Texas’ stringent medical malpractice caps. Some legal observers say the decision is a perversion of legislative intent, but tort reform advocates contend the high court simply closed a huge loophole in liability reforms.

Families Lose Estates In Guardianship Battles

Scherry Levi with her mentally disabled nephew Deartis Preston in Preston's home in Bay City.
Scherry Levi with her mentally disabled nephew Deartis Preston in Preston's home in Bay City.

In the last year, Texas probate courts approved more than $6 million in payments from private estates to court-appointed attorneys, guardians and physicians, in many cases depleting funds left to care for incapacitated people. Critics say the practice amounts to destroying the village in order to save it. Probate judges say they're simply making sure people who can't defend themselves have proper representation.

Families Lose Guardianship in Secret Hearings

Frank and Chila Covington could hardly be mistaken for cruel. For four decades, they showered their daughter, Ceci, who has Down syndrome, with love, affection and opportunity. But when they argued with a group home provider who insisted that Ceci needed psychotropic medication, their world turned upside down. In the time it took for the provider to accuse the Covingtons of “cruelty,” a Tarrant County judge called a secret hearing and removed their guardianship, telling them they could no longer communicate with their own child. And he had every legal right to do so.