Constitutional Amendment would provide clarity
Kim Reynolds has been sworn in as the 43rd governor of Iowa.
There have been numerous stories reported about our governor’s ability to appoint her successor as lieutenant governor. It has been more than 40 years since a sitting governor in Iowa resigned. This fact has created significant speculation on whether the new governor would be able to appoint a lieutenant governor, especially after Attorney General Tom Miller offered two differing opinions on this matter.
When Gov. Reynolds assumed office, it should come with all the powers and duties of the office. Those duties include filling a vacancy, in this case the office of the lieutenant governor. The attorney general decided to put partisan politics into play by saying she did not have the authority to do so, which created confusion and uncertainty. The attorney general opinion states Gov. Reynolds would hold both offices, which is prohibited and defies common sense.
Under the attorney general’s opinion and Gov. Reynolds decision to appoint an acting lieutenant governor, the president of the Senate becomes first in the line of succession to governor. As the Senate President, I believe Iowans deserve clarity on this issue. It is important we address a governor’s ability to appoint a lieutenant governor. As the person most affected by this decision, I plan to offer a constitutional amendment to provide clarity should this situation arise in the future. While the amendment process takes several years, I believe we can get the process started when the Legislature returns in January.