Though he’s yet to be sworn in to the Texas House, incoming Republican lawmaker Bryan Slaton is already working on upcoming legislation, announcing on Monday that his first bill will be to end executive overreach during future crises.
On March 13, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency over the Chinese coronavirus. Under that executive order—which, under current law, can last up to 30 days—Abbott has ordered businesses to close, waived regulations, and issued a statewide mask mandate.
That executive order, however, has been extended on five occasions, causing widespread frustration among legislators and citizens alike.
Slaton says he’s going to work to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“Republicans can’t only oppose executive overreach when Democrat presidents are the ones doing it. We must end the current abuses of the Texas Disaster Act of 1975, and it’s up to the legislature to end the possibility of future abuses in 2021,” said Slaton. “I have various policies that my voters clearly tasked me with, but other than demanding real property tax relief, Governor Abbott’s executive overreach was the most frequently criticized policy by voters at the polls.”
Indeed, during an interview on The Luke Macias Show released last week, Slaton said he believes Abbott’s endorsement of his opponent, incumbent State Rep. Dan Flynn (R–Van), helped his own campaign, saying people approached outside of polling places and told him, “I saw the governor endorsed your opponent; you automatically got my vote.”
“The type of decisions that Abbott is making were never intended to be made in a unilateral way. I’m urging Governor Abbott to return to a respect for the legislative branch,” added Slaton.
Slaton is not the only Republican member of the Legislature who has taken issue with the string of unilateral executive orders from Abbott; numerous members have spoken out over the past several months.
Earlier this month, Republican State Reps. Kyle Biedermann (Fredericksburg), Mike Lang (Granbury), Bill Zedler (Arlington), Steve Toth (The Woodlands), and State Sen. Bob Hall (Edgewood) filed a lawsuit against Abbott over a $295 million agreement with tech firm MTX Group to bring contact tracing to Texas, saying in the suit, “[T]he Texas Constitution requires a separation of powers, and that separation leaves policymaking decisions with the Texas Legislature. These decisions are not changed by pandemics.”
Though Slaton will face Democrat Bill Brannon in the November general election, he is expected to win the safely Republican seat.