May 19, 2017
High-drama is marking the final days of the Texas Legislature, starring House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Straus started the week off by penning a letter to Patrick suggesting that the chambers should work together to pass "two critical bills" -- the state budget and a "sunset safety net" bill -- before the 140 days of the legislative session comes to a close on May 29.
Not so fast, Patrick shot back, insisting that property-tax reform and a "bathroom" bill would have to be passed, or he will push Gov. Greg Abbott to call as many special sessions as necessary to get the job done.
Abbott quickly agreed with Patrick that those two bills were priorities for him, as well.
Patrick said he would move the sunset bill after the House passed the property-tax reform bill, prompting House leaders to accuse him of trying to set their schedule.
With bill-passing deadlines fast approaching, the House appeared to be taking their time on Patrick's priorities, unnerving the Senate leadership -- which may have been their goal. As the week ran out, Straus was smiling. Patrick? Not so much.
With less than two weeks left, nearly everyone at the State Capitol was getting cranky.
Pull up a chair and grab some popcorn.
Get the latest updates from Mike Ward, the Chronicle's Austin Bureau chief, and Scott Braddock, editor of the Quorum Report on the fighting and other political intrigue in Austin in this week's Texas Take, the leading political podcast in the Lone Star State, where you get the inside scoop on the Legislature in unvarnished, straight talk that every Texan can understand.