The Texas governor's growing executive powers
Gov. Greg Abbott has amassed an unprecedented level of power in the state's top role through executive measures and, at times, circumventing the Texas Legislature.
State of play: At least 34 lawsuits have been filed challenging Abbott's executive measures in the past two of his nearly eight years in power, per a new ProPublica and The Texas Tribune report.
- Abbott has a wide lead over his Democratic opponent Beto O'Rourke in some of the latest voter polls.
Why it matters: Abbott has been critical of Democratic presidents, particularly former President Obama, who used executive orders to expand their power — but he's done the same through disaster declarations and political appointments of Republican allies and donors.
- Some legal experts say Abbott's actions go beyond his authority under the state's constitution, which largely limits the power of the governor.
The other side: Abbott's office did not reply to interview requests from the news organizations, and several of his allies declined to comment.
- "If people want to change the rules or laws, that's fine, but you change them by going through a process," said Carlos Cascos, a former secretary of state under Abbott, who said only the courts can decide whether Abbott's actions are unconstitutional.
Details: Abbott continues to renew his 2020 COVID-19 disaster declaration despite downplaying the pandemic. And, he has continued to renew a disaster declaration he first issued in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey, according to the ProPublica report.
- Abbott has issued at least 42 executive orders in his nearly eight years as governor.
- He has also issued a disaster declaration for the border, allowing him to direct resources — which he otherwise wouldn't have been able to use — toward border patrol.
Flashback: Abbott was elected as a Harris County district judge before then-Gov. George W. Bush appointed him to the Texas Supreme Court to fill a vacancy in 1996.
- He was elected as the state's attorney general in 2002 and as governor in 2014, replacing Rick Perry who opted not to run again.
Yes, but: Abbott has built off of his predecessor's use of executive orders. During his 14-year reign, Perry signed 80 orders, including one requiring HPV vaccines for girls that was reversed after legislators complained.
More Dallas stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Dallas.