I'm trying to make sense of this, but the more I read, the more confused I'm becoming.
Gov. Rick Perry exceeded his authority in ordering middle-school girls receive a new vaccine against cervical cancer, Attorney General Greg Abbott has told lawmakers.
Sen. Jane Nelson said today that Abbott met with her and Rep. Jim Keffer last week and told them that Health and Human Services Commissioner Albert Hawkins does not have to follow Perry's order. Hawkins, however, has legal authority on his own to add the vaccine to the list of shots required for school.
"It appears that (the executive order) is, in effect, an advisory order and does not carry the weight of law," said Nelson and Keffer in a joint statement.
In an interview, Nelson added that Abbott said he could not predict what the courts might say about Perry's authority because the issue has never been litigated.
The House takes up a bill Tuesday to overturn Perry's order and prevent Hawkins from adding the HPV vaccine as a school requirement. A similar bill is pending in the Senate.
"We know now what authority the commissioner has regarding immunizations, and laws can change or define that authority," said Nelson.
But then there's this.
"It doesn't sound like it" needs to be overturned, Nelson said of the executive order. "I think it's viewed like more of a suggestion to the agency director."
Nelson and Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, had asked Abbott for an opinion on the constitutionality of Perry's order. Nelson said Abbott told them that the governor cannot, through an executive order, require an agency to do something that it is not already authorized to do. State health officials are authorized by the Legislature to decide which vaccines are required.
Maybe this is all just a little confusion resulting from the short period of time since Abbott issued his informal opinion. I'll check the writeups tomorrow to see if it's any clearer to me. Meanwhile, we'll see if HB1098 goes forward or not tomorrow. Stay tuned.Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 12, 2007 to That's our Lege