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Texas Take

Jun 15, 2017

House Speaker Joe Straus seems sick and tired of it all.

After months of critical swipes from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick at him and his legislative chamber, and a week after Gov. Greg Abbott said lawmakers will be lazy if they don't pass all 20 of his agenda items in a special legislative session starting July 18, the normally reserved Straus has responded with both barrels.

Addressing school administrators in San Antonio, Straus blasted his fellow Republican leaders by comparing Abbott's special-session agenda to a pile of manure and saying Texas is off-track with proposals such as the "bathroom bill" championed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the clubby Senate.

He said the state should instead be focusing on reforming the way it finances public education, a far more worthy issue.

The criticism, which surely did not please Abbott or Patrick, might come as no surprise, given that ultra-conservative Republican groups that have applauded Abbott's special session agenda and have considered Patrick a hero for years have repeatedly blasted Straus' more moderate positions.

No secret: Straus and Patrick have never been close buddies.

As the acrimony beneath Austin's "Pink Dome" grows, so does the intrigue building over just how ugly the fighting could become during the midsummer special session -- "special," as in perhaps really special.

We've got all the lowdown on the meltdown of the Republican Party leadership in Texas and more in this week's Texas Take, where you get the inside scoop in unvarnished, straight talk that every Texan can understand.

From Mike Ward, the Chronicle's Austin Bureau chief, and Scott Braddock, editor of the Quorum Report, comes Texas' leading online podcast about Lone Star politics.