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

New Child Welfare Chief Asks Lawmakers for Cooperation

New DFPS Commissioner Hank Whitman, a former Texas Ranger, testifies July 12, 2016 to the House Committee on Human Services about his plans to reform the agency, including having the regional commissioners reapply for their jobs.
New DFPS Commissioner Hank Whitman, a former Texas Ranger, testifies July 12, 2016 to the House Committee on Human Services about his plans to reform the agency, including having the regional commissioners reapply for their jobs.

The new chief of the state's beleaguered child welfare system had a clear message for Texas lawmakers Tuesday: Time has run out for business as usual.

Dallas Attack Tests City's Progress in Police Relations

Flowers sit on the dash of a Dallas Area Rapid Transit police motorcycle as it is used to block off the scene where, the night before, snipers targeted police officers, killing five, after a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in downtown.
Flowers sit on the dash of a Dallas Area Rapid Transit police motorcycle as it is used to block off the scene where, the night before, snipers targeted police officers, killing five, after a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in downtown.

A fragile peace settled over Dallas one day after a sniper caused the worst loss of police officer lives since September 11, but beneath calls for unity tension simmered.

Paxton Shopped Transgender Policy to Second School District

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, enters room where he will announce information on a lawsuit filed in U.S District Court against several federal agencies regarding bathroom and locker room rules in Texas public schools on May 25, 2016
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, enters room where he will announce information on a lawsuit filed in U.S District Court against several federal agencies regarding bathroom and locker room rules in Texas public schools on May 25, 2016

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton approached at least one other North Texas school district about adopting the transgender student bathroom policy that is now the center of his lawsuit against the Obama administration.

Timeline: Attorney General Ken Paxton's Legal Saga

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is shown at a news conference in Austin on Jan. 13, 2016, to announce a new unit of the attorney general’s office dedicated to combating human trafficking.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is shown at a news conference in Austin on Jan. 13, 2016, to announce a new unit of the attorney general’s office dedicated to combating human trafficking.

On Thursday, a court heard arguments on Ken Paxton's request to dismiss criminal charges related to private business deals made before he became AG. Use this timeline to to keep up with the legal and political drama.

Paxton Uses State Protection for Frequent North Texas Trips

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at a press conference in Austin on Jan. 13, 2016 to announce a new unit within the Texas Attorney General’s Office dedicated to combating human trafficking.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at a press conference in Austin on Jan. 13, 2016 to announce a new unit within the Texas Attorney General’s Office dedicated to combating human trafficking.

For the past year, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has used taxpayer-funded security teams and drivers to travel at least twice and as many as four times a month to North Texas where he has a home and businesses, according to records obtained by The Texas Tribune.

With New Pump Stickers, Miller Boosts Profile, Dings Lawmakers

A new fuel pump sticker issued by the Texas Department of Agriculture puts tax blame on Congress and the Legislature while placing Commissioner Sid Miller's name in greater prominence.
A new fuel pump sticker issued by the Texas Department of Agriculture puts tax blame on Congress and the Legislature while placing Commissioner Sid Miller's name in greater prominence.

A new sticker for the state's gas pumps comes with a few additional flourishes: Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller's name emblazoned across the top and a disclaimer blaming gas taxes on Congress and the Texas Legislature. 

 

Sid Miller: Complaints Over Rodeo, "Jesus Shot" are Harassment

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller looks on during a lunchtime "Faith at Work" session at the Stephen F. Austin state office building. Such weekly meetings are organized by Michael Tummillo, who Miller named the official volunteer chaplain at the Department of Agriculture.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller looks on during a lunchtime "Faith at Work" session at the Stephen F. Austin state office building. Such weekly meetings are organized by Michael Tummillo, who Miller named the official volunteer chaplain at the Department of Agriculture.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on Wednesday called complaints filed against him over questions surrounding two taxpayer-funded out-of-state trips "harassment."