Emily Ramshaw, Texas Tribune

Texas Tribune Reporter

Emily Ramshaw investigates state agencies and covers social services for KUT's political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune. Previously, she spent six years reporting for The Dallas Morning News, first in Dallas, then in Austin. In April 2009 she was named Star Reporter of the Year by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Headliners Foundation of Texas. Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, she received a bachelor's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

 

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Politics
1:23 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Runoff Voters Were in Mood to Oust Incumbents

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The message from Texas runoff voters? Out with incumbents.

Though the biggest election news on Tuesday night was former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz’s defeat of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Republican race for U.S. Senate, there was a jaw-dropping ousting of elected officials up and down the ballot — particularly in the Texas House. From emergency room doctor and political outsider Donna Campbell’s win over state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, to Supreme Court Justice David Medina's upset at the hands of former district court judge John Devine, to the commanding defeats of state Reps. Sid MillerChuck Hopson and Jim Landtroop, here’s a look at how the votes fell in key races across the state.

Texas Senate

In SD-25, Campbell easily upset Wentworth, R-San Antonio, ending his 20-year career in the Texas Senate. 

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Health
8:59 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Perry: TX Won't Implement Key Elements of Health Reform

Todd Wiseman / Kjetil Ree for Texas Tribune

Texas will not expand Medicaid or establish a health insurance exchange, two major tenets of the federal health reform that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld last month, Gov. Rick Perry said in an early morning announcement.

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Texas
10:25 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Fake Twitter Feeds, Deceptive Websites Shake Up Primary

Image by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Looking for state Sen. Jeff Wentworth’s personal website? It's not jeffwentworth.com, an attack site that blasts the 20-year San Antonio incumbent as “the most liberal Republican senator in Austin.”

Want to know what Ted Cruz, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, says on Twitter? Don't follow @RealTedCruz, which calls the former state solicitor general a “trial lawyer standing with a Chinese conglomerate to kill American jobs.” 

Straddling the line between dirty tricks and political strategy is as old as elections. And campaign impersonation dates at least as far back as the 1970s, when Donald Segretti, President Richard Nixon’s re-election operative, forged letters seeking to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Edmund Muskie — a move that landed Segretti in prison.

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University of Texas
3:36 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Cigarroa: Chairman Didn't Direct Me to Fire Powers

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, responding to a news report suggesting UT Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell had asked him to fire University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers, said Thursday that Powell "never directed me to fire anyone." 

Cigarroa's statement follows a blog post late Wednesday from Texas Monthly Senior Executive Editor Paul Burka. Citing an unnamed source, Burka wrote that the regents are angry at Powers for publicly expressing disappointment with their decision — made with encouragement from Gov. Rick Perry — to reject Powers' request for a slight tuition increase. Burka wrote that Powell asked Cigarroa to officially recommend that they fire Powers, and that Cigarroa refused. The post suggested the board would likely call a special meeting to take action. 

The report sparked an overnight social media campaign on Powers' behalf. 

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Health
11:51 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Texas Planned Parenthood Branches Will Vote on Merger

Planned Parenthood supporters rally at the Capitol on Tuesday morning.
Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

The boards of three regional Planned Parenthood branches — North TexasCentral Texas and the Capital Region — will vote today on a proposed merger designed to form a $29 million-per-year mega-organization with 26 clinics up and down the Interstate 35 corridor.

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Texas
11:08 am
Wed April 11, 2012

Planned Parenthood Sues to Halt Exclusion from Program

March 6th, 2012: Protest against Texas lawmakers decision regarding changed to the the Women's Health Program. the federal government is expected to cut funding for the program because Texas improperly excluded Planned Parenthood
Photo by: Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Planned Parenthood branches in Texas have filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to block their exclusion from the state's Women's Health Program.

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Health
11:09 am
Fri March 23, 2012

The Storm Over Women's Health Care Had Been Brewing

Seton-Circle of Care Women's Services at TAMHSC.
Photo by Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

In the battle between state leaders and the Obama administration over Texas’ decision to oust health care providers affiliated with abortion clinics from a five-year-old contraception and cancer-screening program, both sides believe they are the victims.

The Obama administration says Texas is violating federal law by limiting where poor women can seek health care, and it announced last week that it was cutting off financing for the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which does not pay for abortions and received $9 in federal financing for every $1 the state contributed.

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Texas
4:30 pm
Fri March 16, 2012

Abbott Sues Feds Over Women's Health Program

Woman at Texas Capitol protests Republican lawmakers decision to exclude Planned Parenthood from the Women's Health Program.
Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is filing yet another lawsuit against the federal government, this one, no surprise, over the Women's Health Program. 

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Texas
11:03 am
Thu March 15, 2012

State Spends Big to Pay Workers for Unused Vacation

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Texas government agencies have paid fired or resigning state employees more than $500 million in unused vacation time over the last decade. It’s a staggering sum that fiscal conservative critics call “ridiculous,” especially in tough budget times.

But state workers say what’s ridiculous is that so many jobs have been cut — and that agencies are so understaffed that employees can’t take vacations.

In each of the last 10 years, state officials paid out an average $50 million in accrued vacation time, according to data from the Texas comptroller’s office. That number crept up to $68 million in 2004 and $67 million last year — both on the heels of a budget shortfall and related layoffs.

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Health
2:55 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Suehs: Feds' Stand on Women's Health Sets Bad Precedent

Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Tom Suehs (left), and Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The state's health commissioner is blasting the Obama administration's argument that it can't renew a joint state-federal health program because Republican lawmakers have banned Planned Parenthood from participating in it. 

In an uncharacteristically angry letter sent to Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus, Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Tom Suehs argues that if the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) won't let Texas exclude Planned Parenthood from the Women's Health Program, "then no state can ever confidently apply policies and requirements that advance important and legitimate state interests to regulate providers' participation in Medicaid." 

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Politics
4:35 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

In Texas and Virginia, Different Reactions to Sonogram Bill

Two sonogram tools used at a Planned Parenthood clinic providing abortions in Austin.
Erich Schlegel, Texas Tribune

The pandemonium over Virginia’s proposed abortion sonogram law — from a Saturday Night Live sketch to furious protests and intense national media coverage — bears little resemblance to the battle over Texas’ version of the law.

That’s despite some striking similarities between the two states: They’re both Republican-leaning; they both have conservative governors with national ambitions who have headed the Republican Governors Association. But the political reality is that Texas’ abortion sonogram bill and Virginia’s abortion sonogram bill were debated at very different times, and under very different circumstances.

Though both states have Republican governors — Rick Perry in Texas and Bob McDonnell in Virginia — and Republican majorities in their legislative chambers, that doesn’t mean they’re equally red, said Matt Mackowiak, an Austin-based Republican consultant.

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Texas
11:39 am
Thu February 23, 2012

Suehs Signs Rule Banning Abortion Affiliates

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

If there was any hope that the state was seeking a compromise with the federal government over Texas’ Women’s Health Program, it’s fading fast. At the direction of lawmakers and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Texas Health and Human Services commissioner signed a rule on Thursday that formally bans Planned Parenthood clinics and other "affiliates of abortion providers" from participating in the program — something the Obama administration has said is a deal-breaker for the nearly $40 million-per-year state-federal Medicaid program. 

The rule, signed by Commissioner Tom Suehs on Thursday, takes effect March 14.  

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Texas
4:01 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

Perry Targets "Pro-Abortion Radicals" in CPAC Speech

Gov. Rick Perry with wife Anita at Williamson County Republican dinner in Round Rock, his first public speech since leaving the presidential race.
Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Texas Gov. Rick Perry targeted what he called “left-wing, pro-abortion radicals” in a speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, blaming the Obama Administration for the state’s stand-off over the Medicaid Women’s Health Program.

“President Obama has invalidated a waiver that provides health care for more than 100,000 women in my state,” he said, simply because Texas doesn’t want to “subsidize abortion.”

The Women’s Health Program is a joint state-federal program that provides well-woman exams, contraception and STD screenings — not abortions — for thousands of poor women in Texas. The majority of them have traditionally occurred at Planned Parenthood clinics.

This year, in an ongoing effort to force Planned Parenthood out of business in Texas, Republican officials asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a waiver — to continue the program but exclude Planned Parenthood from it.

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Politics
4:43 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Perry Campaign Manager to Head Dewhurst Super PAC

Rob Johnson (left) will be managing a super PAC fund for Senate candidate David Dewhurst.
Photo illustration by Bob Daemmrich, Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Rob Johnson, the campaign manager for Rick Perry's failed presidential bid, has a new gig: running a super PAC for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's Senate race. 

Johnson has a familiarity and a history with Dewhurst. He ran his 2002 campaign, and he was a top aide to the lieutenant governor for eight years before running Perry's last gubernatorial race. Johnson briefly served as former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign manager until resigning in June, fanning rumors that Perry would run for president.

Back in Austin after Perry's high-profile flameout, Johnson established and is the executive director of the Texas Conservatives Fund, which he formed specifically to help Dewhurst succeed U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Johnson said Perry's former national finance director Margaret Lauderback, who also led the fundraising effort for the governor's 2010 re-election bid, is the Texas Conservatives Fund's finance director.

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Health
5:35 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Komen Drops Support of Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood clinical assistant Nicki Bailey discusses the new abortion laws with a patient in Austin.
Eric Schlegel, Texas Tribune

The Dallas-based breast cancer prevention group Susan G. Komen for the Cure has halted its financial support of Planned Parenthood, yet another blow to the family planning organization that provides abortions in some of its clinics. 

Planned Parenthood alleges that Komen — which was founded in 1982 by Nancy Goodman Brinker, a former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary under George W. Bush, to honor her deceased sister — succumbed to rising political pressure.

"Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count," Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement posted on the organization's website.  

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2012 Presidential Election
8:29 am
Tue January 24, 2012

Perry Won't Refund Security Costs for Presidential Bid

Gov. Perry has brushed off calls to reimburse security expenses arising from his presidential run..
Photo by KUT News

Texas Democrats calling on Gov. Rick Perry to repay the taxpayer-funded security costs associated with his run for president shouldn't hold their breath. A Perry spokeswoman said Monday that it wasn't the governor's decision to have a security detail out on the campaign trail — it was the Department of Public Safety's. And she said "not a dime" of Perry's own travel expenses were paid by taxpayers. 

"The Department of Public Safety has a policy of providing security for governors and their families everywhere they travel, as they have back several administrations," said Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed. "These policies are determined by DPS and not the governor’s office. It’s unfortunate that we live in a day and age where security is an issue."

Nashed's response followed a letter that state Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, the leader of the House Democrats, sent to the governor's office Monday, asking him to repay the $2.6 million the state spent on his security detail between August, when Perry entered the GOP presidential race, and last week, when he dropped out days before the South Carolina primary.

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2012 Presidential Election
9:36 am
Sun January 22, 2012

Back in Texas, Rick Perry Has Relationships to Repair

Gov. Rick Perry waits to go on stage at the 7 Flags Events Center in Clive, Iowa, on Jan. 3, 2012. Perry placed fifth in the Iowa caucuses.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

When Gov. Rick Perry suspended his presidential bid, he said it was because there was no “viable path forward.” But is there a viable path back?

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2012 Presidential Election
9:55 am
Thu January 5, 2012

After Poor Iowa Showing, Why is Perry Still Running?

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Only Gov. Rick Perry knows for sure what changed in the 12-hour period between his late-night decision to come back to Texas to reassess his presidential bid and his morning Tweet that he was forging ahead to South Carolina.

While the Tuesday night announcement surprised Perry's staffers and supporters — even following a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses — his abrupt and public change of heart Wednesday morning caught them completely off guard.  

So what could he be thinking? We asked seasoned strategists, politicos and Republican experts on the ground in early primary states for their top five theories.

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2012 Presidential Election
10:58 am
Wed January 4, 2012

In Quick Turnaround, Perry Headed to South Carolina

Despite a disappointing fifth place finish in Tuesday night's Iowa caucuses that led Rick Perry to say he was returning home to Texas to reassess his candidacy, the Texas governor surprised everyone — including some of his own staff — by tweeting that he was headed to the Palmetto State. 

"Next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State," Perry tweeted, posting a picture of himself in jogging gear giving two thumbs up. "Here we come South Carolina!!!" 

Perry's son Griffin Perry followed up with his own tweet confirming his father's intentions. "See y'all next week in Carolina! I expect all my SEC brethren to come out in force," the younger Perry tweeted.

The news sent political pundits, who had all but assumed Perry was dropping out of the race, spinning. It also clearly confused some of Perry's campaign staff, many of whom were en route from Iowa to Austin. 

"We are all scrambling," one staffer wrote in a text message. 

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Health
3:23 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Feds Approve One Texas Health Waiver, Reject Another

Photo by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has turned down Texas’ request to run a family planning program that excludes certain providers — namely Planned Parenthood — saying it’s a violation of the federal Social Security Act.

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