OLR Research Report

March 5, 2010




By: Mary M. Janicki, Research Analyst

You want to know whether a former governor's executive orders remain in effect in a new administration and whether governors typically review and repeal or amend existing executive orders soon after taking office.


Executive orders remain in effect after the issuing governor has left office. They are binding and have the force of law unless and until a future governor or the General Assembly amends or repeals them through legislation.

A review of changes in executive branch administrations since Governor Ella Grasso took office in 1975 shows two examples of a governor, within about one year of taking office, reestablishing in one case and repealing in another provisions of an executive order issued by a previous governor. In another example, the governor repealed a number of boards established by executive order; but this was done more than four years after taking office.


On February 1, 1986, Attorney General Joseph Lieberman issued an opinion (1986 Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. 13) stating that executive orders:

1. remain in effect after the issuing governor has left office,

2. adhere to the office and not the incumbent officer, and

3. continue indefinitely until additional formal action is taken by the legislative or executive branches of government.

The opinion cites a court case that declared:

The Executive Order issued pursuant to this statutory provision, until rescinded or superseded, is effective beyond the expiration of the term of the Governor who issued it. The executive power is one of continuing effect, never ending, and unbroken by succession, a principle inherent and necessary to preservation of the stability and the integrity of our constitutional government (Baxter v. State, 214 S.E.2d 578 at 582 (1975)).

The attorney general went on to say that an executive order can be (1) altered by an act of the legislature that either cites an executive order specifically or deals with the same subject matter or (2) amended or revoked by a governor.


In fact, governors sometimes modify or repeal provisions that a former governor promulgated through executive order. However, it does not appear that governors routinely review previously issued executive orders and amend or revoke those with which they may differ. A review of the changes made by governors going back to the Ella Grasso administration (1975) shows that only two such changes were issued during the first year or so of a governor's tenure.

On January 19, 1976 (after having been sworn in on January 8, 1975), Governor Grasso reconstituted the Governor's Railroad Advisory Task Force (Executive Order No. 14), thereby rescinding Governor Thomas J. Meskill's Executive Order No. 24.

On May 1, 2005 (after having been sworn in on July 1, 2004), Governor Rell issued Executive Order No. 6, dissolving the Executive Chambers Conservancy, Inc. that had been established by Governor Rowland in his Executive Order No. 1 (dated January 4, 1995).

Governor Rell repealed several other executive orders in February 2009, which was four and a half years after she took office. She enacted her executive order in response to “a need to reduce both direct and indirect spending” in a “difficult economic climate.”

That order (No. 24) repealed:

1. the Governor's Committee on Physical Fitness (Governor Abraham Ribicoff, unnumbered);

2. the Advisory Commission on American and Francophone Cultural Affairs (Governor Grasso, Executive Order No. 23);

3. the Governor's Competitiveness Council (Governor John Rowland, Executive Order No. 13);

4. the Governor's Small Business Advisory Council (Governor Rowland, Executive Order No. 7-A);

5. the Governor's Identity Theft Advisory Board (Governor M. Jodi Rell, Executive Order No. 11); and

6. the Governor's Early Childhood Research and Policy Council (Governor Rell, Executive Order No. 13).