Morgan Smith Reporter

Morgan Smith reports on politics and education for the Tribune, which she joined in November 2009. She writes about the effects of the state budget, school finance reform, accountability and testing in Texas public schools. Her political coverage has included congressional and legislative races, as well as Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign, which she followed to Iowa and New Hampshire. In 2013, she received a National Education Writers Association award for "Death of a District," a series on school closures. After earning a bachelor's degree in English from Wellesley College, she moved to Austin in 2008 to enter law school at the University of Texas. A San Antonio native, her work has also appeared in Slate, where she spent a year as an editorial intern in Washington D.C.

Recent Contributions

After Misfire, House Republicans Reload Open Carry

State Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, held an impromptu press conference to explain the postponement of his open carry bill after House Democrats raised a point of order on April 14, 2015.
State Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, held an impromptu press conference to explain the postponement of his open carry bill after House Democrats raised a point of order on April 14, 2015.

After a bit of a Democratic gamesmanship shot down a major gun debate before it started, a measure that would allow gun owners with a concealed handgun license to carry their weapons openly in public is back on the House schedule Friday.

School Finance Plan Praised in Capitol Hearing

House Public Education Committee chair Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, on the floor during House Bill 1 debate March 31, 2015.
House Public Education Committee chair Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, on the floor during House Bill 1 debate March 31, 2015.

A plan to overhaul the state’s public education funding system from a top House lawmaker received largely favorable reviews from school districts during a marathon legislative hearing that ended late Tuesday night.

After Delay, House to Take up Open Carry Bill on Friday

San Antonio Democratic Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, c, confronts State Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, with a Point of Order on HB 910 that delayed the open carry gun bill on April 14, 2015.
San Antonio Democratic Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, c, confronts State Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, with a Point of Order on HB 910 that delayed the open carry gun bill on April 14, 2015.

UPDATED: After a technical error caused the Texas House to delay its debate on open carry legislation Tuesday, the legislation is now cleared to go back to the full House floor on Friday.

Senate Shapes Plan for Private School Scholarships

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick listens to debate on SB 8  franchise tax reform measure during Senate action March 25, 2015.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick listens to debate on SB 8 franchise tax reform measure during Senate action March 25, 2015.

In its quest for school choice legislation, the Senate is backing away from traditional vouchers and heading toward a plan that would use donations to fund scholarships for low-income students trying to get out of weak schools. 

Budget Debate Tackles School Funding, Incentive Programs

State Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, carries literature laying out House Bill 1 as he prepares to discuss the appropriations bill on the House floor March 31, 2015.
State Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, carries literature laying out House Bill 1 as he prepares to discuss the appropriations bill on the House floor March 31, 2015.

With more than 350 proposed amendments before then, the Texas House is likely to go well into the evening before getting to a final vote on the $210 billion budget. Early discussions addressed school funding and incentives programs.