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.
In a 19-page court filing, the special prosecutors pursuing the financial securities fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton delivered a scathing response to Paxton's latest efforts to dismiss his three felony charges.Full Story
If Texas sheriffs do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, they will face losing state grant money, Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday.Full Story
Local officials find themselves at ground zero of the immigration debate as battles over “sanctuary cities,” a loose term for cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, brew in a handful of Texas counties.
The forum, which had drawn opposition from the local county GOP, touched on topics like same-sex marriage, red light cameras, school choice and border security.Full Story
Critics of his leadership should look at the conservative record of the Texas House under three terms of his speakership, Joe Straus told an audience at the Texas Tribune Festival Saturday.Full Story
Urging Christians to “be bold” in standing up for religious freedom, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton touted his work as the state’s top lawyer on Tuesday, championing causes dear to social conservatives at a Baptist church.Full Story
The U.S. Department of Education has granted conditional approval of the state's No Child Left Behind waiver. But it remains unclear whether a standoff between the state and the federal government over educator evaluations has come to an end.Full Story
What began as an almost accidental plunge into politics for Julie McCarty has evolved into what is arguably the state’s most influential Tea Party group, supplanting some of the power held by traditional Texas centers of conservative gravity.Full Story
In a rare public appearance since his indictment in late July, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton made an appeal for more Christian involvement in politics as he addressed the congregation at First Baptist Grapevine Sunday.Full Story
After spending more than two weeks without a lawyer, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has secured a defense team in the ongoing financial fraud case against him.Full Story
Attorney General Ken Paxton's first courtroom appearance as a criminal defendant was a 30-minute affair during which Paxton's lead lawyer quit for unspecified reasons, the attorney general insisted no cameras be allowed at his trial and the judge admonished everyone to limit public statements about the case.Full Story
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is expected to plead not guilty when he appears in court Thursday for the first time since his booking on three felony charges earlier this month.Full Story
Under a new state law, law enforcement officials will be able to take children suspected to be sex trafficking victims immediately into protective custody instead of waiting for a court order. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series.Full Story
As allegations that Ken Paxton improperly steered people into investments while failing to disclose his own financial involvement take the spotlight, so have a series of legal heavyweights on both sides of the case.