Good morning and happy Wednesday, folks. Thanks for reading The Brief, our daily newsletter informing you on politics, public policy and everything in between. Forward this email to friends who may want to join us. They can sign up here. — CP
What you need to know
Gov. Greg Abbott's special session agenda is ambitious both because of the number of items he's asking lawmakers to address — 20 in all — and because the House and Senate will have to overcome some sharp divisions before they'll be able to get anything done, writes Ross Ramsey. Here's what you need to know:
• Abbott has made the 85th Legislature’s biggest failures his priorities, writes Ramsey. The House and Senate will have just 30 days to try to reach an agreement on items they couldn't pass during the 140-day regular session.
• Why are lawmakers returning? The leaders of both chambers have different answers. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, has blamed House Speaker Joe Straus for obstructing Senate versions of the "bathroom bill," property tax caps and public subsidies for private education, while Straus called the upper chamber out for failing to address must-pass bills to keep state agencies alive.
• Where does Abbott stand? The governor, who was active in failed backstage negotiations between the chambers as the regular session neared its end, has appeared to join Patrick in criticizing Straus. In a radio interview last week, he said the speaker's "priorities differed from the deals that we were trying to broker at the end of the session." Abbott's special session call also includes several items on Patrick's list of priorities, including a "bathroom bill" and education vouchers for special-needs students.
Other stories we're watching today:
• Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak was elected Tuesday night to chair the Travis County GOP. Mackowiak, who was serving as vice chair of the party, won the top job in a race against Don Zimmerman, a former member of the Austin City Council. Mackowiak received 46 votes from precinct chairs to Zimmerman's 38, according to the party. The county party was previously led by James Dickey, who stepped down earlier this month after being elected chairman of the Texas GOP.
• Are Texas lawmakers planning to ax tree ordinances in more than 50 cities across the state?
• The Texas Department of Public Safety restored extended business hours at 11 of the state's busiest driver's license offices, following criticism from customers and lawmakers.
• U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's fragile alliance with GOP leaders is increasingly at the center of efforts to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.
• Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton received a new judge in his securities fraud case — a Democrat who ousted Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's son in an election last year.
• The president at Prairie View A&M University is stepping down after 14 years to return to the school's faculty and focus on research.
News from home
Register for the 2017 Texas Tribune Festival! Join us for three days of the best conversations in politics and public policy, Sept. 22-24. Register here.
What we're reading
Links below lead to outside websites; we've noted paywall content with $.
How the U.S. triggered a massacre in Mexico, ProPublica
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoes funding that helps colonias, The El Paso Times
Cornyn focuses on Comey, Clinton emails in Sessions' Senate hearing on Russia, The Dallas Morning News ($)
Rep. Olson's campaign funded Pearland runoff effort, The Houston Chronicle ($)
Travis County GOP picks Matt Mackowiak as new chairman, The Austin American-Statesman ($)
Photo of the day
Colorado-based Oskar Blues, maker of Dale's Pale Ale, is opposed to a bill that would require it to pay what critics call an "extortion fee" to beer distributors. Photo by Erika Rich. See more photos on our Instagram account.
Quote to note
"We hope that we are in a much better place — and we certainly are. We are a different university than we were one, two, three, five years ago."
— Linda Livingstone, Baylor University's new president, about how she plans to move the school past scandal.
Feedback? Questions? Email us at email@example.com. As always, thanks for choosing The Brief — if you liked what you read today, become a member or make a donation here.