Kentucky Bill Filed to Determine Senate President
Saying that Kentucky’s lieutenant governor needs to be given more authority, state Rep. George Brown Jr. filed legislation today that, if approved, would essentially restore the office’s powers to what they were when the state’s constitution was adopted in 1891.
“In 1992, Kentucky’s voters decided that future governors should pick their running mate before the election, which of course is similar to the way we choose our presidents,” said Rep. Brown of Lexington.
“That change in our constitution, however, greatly reduced the authority of our lieutenant governors. I think we need to bring that office back in line with the vice president’s duties, which in this case would have the lieutenant governor serve as president of the state Senate. That’s how our state and federal constitutional framers wanted it, and that’s the way it was here in Kentucky for a century,” added Brown.
Under Rep. Brown’s House Bill 302, voters would have the chance to vote on this measure in November, if the House and Senate agree to put it on the ballot. That amendment would not only have the lieutenant governor serve as Senate president; it also would have that person break any ties in that 38-member body.
House Bill 302 would also clarify who would lead state government should the governor and lieutenant governor be impeached, die or otherwise be unable to carry out the role of governor. Under the legislation, that duty would fall to the Attorney General and then, if necessary, the Auditor. Currently, the constitution calls for the Attorney General to serve as chief executive only until a new Senate president is chosen.
“When you look back at the 1992 constitutional amendment, there were some provisions in it that polling indicated were not entirely popular at the time,” Rep. Brown said.
“The amendment passed largely because the voters believed the governor should be able to serve two consecutive terms. I think if voters are given the chance again to restore more power to the lieutenant governor, they would agree that this would be a good thing. My hope is that we can put this on the ballot and let the people decide,” continued Brown.
Rep. Brown’s constitutional amendment will be considered during the current legislative session, which runs through mid-April.
(story provided by Office of the Kentucky House Speaker)