As the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has responded by handing down a handful of executive orders in an attempt to curtail the spread of the disease.
Elected in 2014, Abbott has flexed his executive powers to address a small host of differing emergencies or extenuating circumstances. Here’s a look back at all the executive orders that have been issued by Governor Greg Abbott since he took office:
March 30, 2016: Relating to the continuation of the Governor’s Commission for Women.
Founded by executive order in 1967 by then-Governor John Connally, the Governor’s Commission for Women is made up of a group of women who each serve two-year terms and are appointed by the governor.
Under Governor Abbott, the commission aims to address two key issue areas; advancing women-owned businesses and preventing human trafficking.
September 13, 2017: Relating to the suspension of the seven-day waiting period for certain state unemployment insurance claimants who have become unemployed as a direct result of the disaster created by Hurricane Harvey.
Just weeks after Hurricane Harvey ravaged parts of South Texas, Governor Abbott issued an executive order that served to suspend the waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits if the person was “unemployed as a direct result of a natural disaster.”
September 5, 2018 — Relating to the establishment of the Governor’s Committee to Support the Military.
This executive order instituted the Governor’s Committee to Support the Military, which according to the order, is to be made up of “Texas-resident veterans, community leaders, and business leaders.” The committee, in part, is tasked with making legislative recommendations and releasing reports as necessary.
December 4, 2018 — Honoring the memory of the forty-first President of the United States of America, George Herbert Walker Bush.
After the passing of the former congressman from Texas and United States President George. H.W. Bush, Abbott issued this order and declared December 5, 2018, as an official Day of Mourning.
December 13, 2018 — Relating to emergency management of natural and human-caused events, emergencies, and disasters.
Prior to the start of the 86 Legislative Session, Abbott created the Emergency Management Council, consisting of 39 entities, including state agencies, commissions, and volunteer organizations. The council, chaired by Chief W. Nim Kidd, is tasked with advising state leaders “on critical matters relating to emergency management for natural and human-caused events, emergencies, and disasters that may occur in this state,” among other responsibilities.
June 13, 2019 — Relating to necessary assistance from qualified plumbers with disaster recovery and preparedness, suspending Section 1301.003 of the Texas Occupations Code to prevent the imminent abolition of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners and expiration of the Plumbing License Law on September 1, 2019, and delaying that abolition and expiration until disaster needs subside or the 87th legislature addresses the matter.
After the legislature failed to renew the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, Abbott issued an executive order, rather than calling for a special session, to reinstate the board. Though the governor cited his 2017 “imminent disaster” declaration in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, questions were raised regarding the constitutionality of the move.
September 5, 2019 — Relating to the prevention of mass attacks.
In the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa, Abbott issued eight executive orders in response aimed at increasing public safety. The orders were issued along with policy recommendations ahead of the 86th Legislative Session and “concrete steps” that could be taken by governmental agencies.
March 19, 2020 — Relating to COVID-19 preparedness and mitigation (coronavirus).
Abbott’s first executive order aiming to help contain coronavirus in Texas limited social gatherings to fewer than 10 people, ended dine-in at restaurants, restricted nursing home or long-term care facility visits to critical assistance, and temporarily closed school districts across the state.
March 22, 2020 — Relating to hospital capacity during the COVID-19 disaster (coronavirus).
Days after his first coronavirus executive order, Abbott instructed healthcare professionals and facilities to “postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately necessary” to preserve the life of their patients in order to ensure the proper care and supplies would be available for patients facing coronavirus. Attorney General Ken Paxton ruled that abortions would be included in the list of postponed non-essential surgeries and operations, causing pro-life organizations to hail the order as a win.
March 24, 2020 — Relating to daily reporting during the COVID-19 disaster (coronavirus, hospital reporting).
On Tuesday, Abbott ordered all hospitals to submit “daily reports of hospital bed capacity,” and any “public or private entity that is utilizing an FDA-approved test” to submit reports of the results of the administered tests.
March 26, 2020 — Relating to airport screening and self-quarantine during the COVID-19 disaster.
Most recently, Abbott required mandatory self-quarantine for airport travelers coming to Texas from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or the City of New Orleans. The quarantine must last for 14-days or for the duration of their stay. The Department of Public Safety will enforce the order, and conduct visits to ensure compliance.
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McKenzie Taylor serves as Operations Manager and resident plate-spinner for The Texan. Previously, she worked as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.