Using gubernatorial executive orders to advance public health.
ABSTRACT A gubernatorial executive order (GEO) is a non-legislative legal mechanism that governors increasingly are using to set and implement policy. This trend has significant public health implications because GEOs provide a potent alternative to state-level legislation, regulation, and litigation in the health policy context. Public health professionals should understand the GEO and its potential implications in order to advocate most effectively for policies that improve the public's health. After examining the place of the GEO in the state-level legal landscape, this presentation will explore the ways in which governors have used GEOs to improve the public's health. These include tackling public health emergencies, establishing new programs and entities, directing agencies, reorganizing agencies, raising the profile of an issue, and controlling state operations. These categories will be explored through specific examples of GEOs. The presentation will then discuss issues that public health practitioners should appreciate when determining whether to advocate for a GEO or for an alternative legal mechanism, such as limitations on the scope of GEOs and the speed with which they may be implemented. This presentation should appeal to those with or without legal expertise.