Favorite

Take this office, please 


With all due respect to Win Rockefeller, I revive my contention that the legislature should refer to the voters a constitutional amendment to abolish the office of lieutenant governor.

The amendment also should repeal the absurdly outdated notion in our official state antique — the state Constitution of 1874 — that someone else must become governor whenever the real one crosses the state boundary going the other way.

That means pretty much every day these days.

This amendment also should provide a new line of succession to the governorship in case of gubernatorial death, resignation or removal from office. I’d suggest an adapted parliamentary system in which either the president pro tempore of the state Senate or the speaker of the House would become governor for a restricted period — two or three months, maybe — during which the amendment would require him to call, and the state to conduct, a special election for a new governor.

The circumstances of Win Paul’s yearlong illness and death laid bare the pointlessness of his office. In his eulogy, Mike Huckabee said he couldn’t imagine how Win Paul stayed there for a decade.

Lieutenant governor is an independent position, meaning not filled by a running mate chosen by the governor. It would make more sense structurally and politically if it was part of a ticket.

The occupant supposedly presides over the state Senate. But the Senate only meets a few weeks every two years. Anyway, the senator who gets elected president pro tempore actually runs the place in concert with the chairmen of the Rules and Efficiency committees.

Then the lieutenant governor casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate. Offhand I can recall only one tie in 25 years. As a 35-member body, the Senate would require odd-numbered absences or the cutting of a senator in half to lend itself to frequent dead heats.

There’s that other element of the job: The lieutenant governor becomes the actual governor with all powers thereof whenever the real one goes out of state if only for an hour. But Rockefeller had been out of state for a year himself, getting treatment in Seattle.

It has not affected the functioning of the government.

Whenever Huckabee was gone — meaning most any day — state Sen. Jim Argue, the president pro tempore, was governor. Since Argue, too, is entitled to travel, the next in line, House Speaker Bill Stovall, has been governor from time to time lately as well.

Argue and Stovall are responsible, not interested in perpetrating outrages in the style of the late Jerry Jewell. You will remember that Jewell was the president pro tempore who issued a pardon when Jim Guy Tucker lost all gubernatorial power by going to Washington for Bill Clinton’s inauguration.

It seems the only significant potential effect of this lingering remnant of yesteryear is outrage.

Huckabee hasn’t made any move to call an election to replace Rockefeller. In fact, informed speculation is that he may not take any action until calling a special election to be conducted concurrently with the regular election in November — if at all.

State law says the governor shall call a special election to fill this vacancy. But nothing prescribes any timetable.

Huckabee simply might not get around to it, since we’ll elect a new lieutenant governor in November to take office in January.

No special session is expected between now and then for the lieutenant governor’s superfluous chores of presiding and remote ones of tie-breaking.

Huckabee also points out there’s no urgency about gubernatorial ascendancy in his absence since he trusts Democrats Argue and Stovall not to pull any stunts.

But if one or the other should issue an executive order that the State Police airplane could only be used for in-state law enforcement work ... well, forgive me for suggesting mischief.






Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by John Brummett

  • Obstruction is the preferred conservatism

    Is there greater conservative virtue in opposing federal health reform, period, or in saying it ought to be implemented locally instead of from Washington in the event we are unavoidably laden with it?
    • Oct 5, 2011
  • A fate not quite as bad as prison for Lu Hardin

    There is no crime in being overly and transparently solicitous for the purposes of aggrandizement and personal political advancement. That's simply acute neediness, a common and benign human frailty.
    • Sep 28, 2011
  • Can we talk? Can we get anywhere?

    Dialogue is good. It would be even better if someone would venture off script every once in a while.
    • Sep 21, 2011
  • More »

More by Max Brantley

Latest in John Brummett

  • Gone to the DoG

    We're now longer carrying John Brummett's column in this space.
    • Oct 12, 2011
  • Obstruction is the preferred conservatism

    Is there greater conservative virtue in opposing federal health reform, period, or in saying it ought to be implemented locally instead of from Washington in the event we are unavoidably laden with it?
    • Oct 5, 2011
  • A fate not quite as bad as prison for Lu Hardin

    There is no crime in being overly and transparently solicitous for the purposes of aggrandizement and personal political advancement. That's simply acute neediness, a common and benign human frailty.
    • Sep 28, 2011
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Redefining candidate quality

    Despite what national party organizations like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Campaign Committee say, conventional definitions of candidate quality are not leading to progressive wins in 2018.
  • Stormy shaming

    Can we talk about Stormy Daniels? More specifically, can we talk about how we talk about Stormy Daniels?
  • Trump and Comey

    In the Bizarro World of the Trump administration, it's only fitting that the president serves as publicity director for James Comey's big book tour. (In the old Superman comics, Bizarro World was an upside-down reality where wickedness was virtue and vice versa.) Supposedly, Trump's stomping around the White House and various golf courses red-faced with anger, emitting smoke from his ears.
  • Week That Was

    After the wildest week of the wildest presidency in history, the clouded future suddenly unfolds more clearly and, yes, nearer. That includes the end of the Trump presidency.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Stormy shaming

    • I do not automatically have contempt for women who have careers built around selling sex…

    • on April 19, 2018
  • Re: Stormy shaming

    • And if new 15 minutes of fame celebrity is a fat, fast-food worker then she'd…

    • on April 18, 2018
  • Re: Stormy shaming

    • Very well said. Great piece of writing for a lawyer. Wink.

    • on April 18, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation