Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Brummett Again Calls For Elimination of Lt. Governor's Office

It was a pretty good, sort of lighthearted column. I think he was funny, but in a sure sign that the world is as it ought to be, I disagree with his conclusions.

The column is probably just a sign that Brummett knows Jim Holt is winning in the Lt. Governor's race. His opponent, Bill Halter, is getting no traction and does not have the personal skill set to get it. A lot of people are offended at how Halter made his money. They would rather vote for a man that does not have any money, despite being in public life for some years- always a good sign they are honest.

If you can't stop Holt, and we all know Brummett has wasted enough ink trying, then belittle the office he is running for as plan B.

(continued, click Tuesday below and scroll down for reasons why leaving the Lt. Gov. office as it is would be a better idea. If sent straight to this article just scroll down).


Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Brummett says that it is an antique artifact that the powers of the Governor devolve to someone else when the Governor leaves the state. Maybe, but our recent Governors have been absent from our borders far too much even when they temporarily lose their powers by leaving. Imagine how often they would abandon us if the could keep their power while galavanting around the world!

He also suggests alternate succession scenarios, usually involving the President Pro Tem of the Senate or the Speaker of the House. Sorry John, but I would rather have the sucessor to Governor be someone who has been voted on by the entire state.

His complaint that the "President of the Senate" role is rarely used is more a reflection of tradition rather than a lack of power in the actual constitution. An aggressive Lt. Governor could use his formal power to determine what bills go to what committees.

Here is just one example from last year which shows why this is important: Senator Holt sponsored a bill that would have banned homosexuals from gaining access to children through foster parenting or adoption. He basically saw the current crisis coming and had a bill to beat it. The bill sailed through the House, but in the Senate it was sent to a committee controlled by four doctrinaire liberals. It died there.

Politicians do this all the time. Bills can usually be sent to a number of committtees. The ones they don't want to vote on- like things they claim they are for back home but are really against- are sent to committees where they will be bottled up.

In Texas, many observors say that the Lt. Governor is actually more powerful than the Governor. They have basically the same formal set up as we do. The Lt. Governor presides over the Senate. In Texas, the tradition is that they use that power, in Arkansas the tradition is that they defer to a President Pro Tem. If the bills are not being sent to committee fairly, it is nice to know there is someone elected by the people of the whole state that can step in and oversee that process.

Mr. Brummett also says that if the office exists, it should be part of a ticket with the Governor instead of an independent office. Again, I mildly disagree. Our state constitution was put together by people who did not trust executive power, so they broke it up.

In many cases, the executive offices we elect, like Land Commisioner, would be appointed in most political systems. Here we elect them so that executive power is more divided. That is fine with me. I don't trust executive power either.

As a kicker, the Lt. Governor makes a lot of appointments to boards and commissions. A couple of the are even codified in the Constitution. Any amendment to do away with the office would also have to address the fact that the duties of the Lt. Governor are scattered throughout our law and constitution.

In conclusion, this is one of those things that might sound good at first, but when you look deeply into it with discernment, you find it gets even messier than what we have now.

8:53 AM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

This is one of those issues that policy wonks love. We can also debate it without the usual level of acrimony seen in these discussions.

9:01 AM, July 25, 2006  
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....but apparently no takers.

4:02 PM, July 25, 2006  
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