It Don't Matter Who's in Austin, Rick Perry Is Still the King


Last week Maryland avoided an ill-conceived scheme to mandate the HPV vaccine. Now Texas has moved in the opposite direction.

From the AP's report:

Bypassing the Legislature altogether, Republican Gov. Rick Perry issued an order Friday making Texas the first state to require that schoolgirls get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer….Perry also directed state health authorities to make the vaccine available free to girls 9 to 18 who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover vaccines. In addition, he ordered that Medicaid offer Gardasil to women ages 19 to 21….

Merck [which makes the vaccine] is bankrolling efforts to pass state laws across the country mandating Gardasil for girls as young as 11 or 12. It doubled its lobbying budget in Texas and has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country.

Perry has ties to Merck and Women in Government. One of the drug company's three lobbyists in Texas is Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff. His current chief of staff's mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, is a state director for Women in Government.

The governor also received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee during his re-election campaign.

Here's the strangest part of the story:

The order is effective until Perry or a successor changes it, and the Legislature has no authority to repeal it, said Perry spokeswoman Krista Moody. Moody said the Texas Constitution permits the governor, as head of the executive branch, to order other members of the executive branch to adopt rules like this one.

It sure sounds to me like Perry is writing legislation here, not just issuing an order about how the existing laws should be enacted. And even if the order itself is constitutionally legit, I can't see why the legislature wouldn't be able to overrule it with a new bill. But I don't know much about Texas law. Could Moody's claim possibly be true?