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Gubernatorial use of executive orders: unilateral action and policy adoption

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 September 2016

Mitchell Dylan Sellers
Department of Political Science, Temple University, USA E-mail:
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I examine gubernatorial use of executive orders, and assess how executive action influences statute adoption. I argue that strong governors use executive orders to pursue policy objectives when they perceive legislation as unlikely to pass. Multilevel Event History Analysis of executive orders and the adoption of statutes that protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from 1975 to 2013 reveals that partisan control of government and intrastate factors influence both forms of policy adoption. My findings support the strategic model that argues that executives turn to executive orders when confronting unfavourable legislative conditions, and that governors issue protections more when entering office. Legislatures respond to partisan control of the legislature and social characteristics. Further, states that have pro-LGBT executive orders in place are more likely to adopt similar statutes. My results suggest that stronger governors are more likely to issue executive orders, but it is states with weaker governors that are more likely to adopt legislation.

Research Article
© Cambridge University Press, 2016 

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