The Flaw in the Lt. Governor Legislation
On its face, making sure that the executive power is transferred to the Lt. Governor when the Governor can’t act (like when he’s in Iraq during an 8″ snow “storm”) is, well, a freaking good idea, no? But the problem is that there is a deeper root problem not being addressed by any of the legislation being proposed.
One bill, sponsored by Rep. Alfred Gemma, D-Warwick, restores the original language of the state Constitution and allows the lieutenant governor to take charge when the governor is out of state. Yesterday, committee Chairman John J. DeSimone, D-Providence, introduced a bill, which was not heard, that would put the lieutenant governor in charge when the governor leaves the continental United States. Any constitutional amendment would need voter approval in November.
While Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts offered her support for Gemma’s bill, Governor Carcieri opposes it. The governor believes the bill isn’t practical and could present problems, such as “chicanery” by a lieutenant governor who could meddle in day-to-day affairs, said Jeff Greer, Carcieri’s deputy executive counsel.
“But given the factual situation [of the snowstorm], you’d agree with the premise that something needs to be done?” questioned committee member Rep. Peter Kilmartin, D-Pawtucket.
“No, I can’t agree with that,” Greer said. “I think the governor has the discretion to call upon elected officials. … You can debate whether that should have been done [in the storm].”
I disagree with Greer on this one, but I understand the Governor’s suspicion of pontential “chicanery”. The solution is pretty simple: stop the asinine method we have of electing a separate Lt. Governor (usually of a different party). Make the Governor and Lt. Governor running mates. One would think that the trust inherent in a combined ticket would alleviate suspicions and make the whole transfer of power–both actual and constitutional–a lot simpler.