Constitutional Amendment B asks: Shall the Utah Constitution be amended to modify the term of office of a person appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of Lt. Governor?
In 1976, the Utah Legislature combined the office of Secretary of State and Lieutenant Governor, eliminating the office of Secretary of State. A change made in 2008 says if the Governor leaves in the first year of office, the Lt. Governor will step in and then face election at the next general election – in two years or less. After the Lt. Governor steps in as Governor, that person then appoints a new Lt. Governor. The change made in 2008 does not state the appointed Lt. Governor would run for actual election as well.
Arguments for the amendment state that the purpose behind it is to simply align the two offices. It is maintained that the offices will run in tandem. It does not specifically state the appointed Lt. Governor will run on the ballot with the new Governor.
The most basic argument against the change is by not stating the newly appointed Lt. Governor would be required to run in the next General Election as well, it may be possible for an unelected person to hold the second highest office in the State for up to four years. This lessens the voice of the people, according to the rebuttal, and the amendment should be voted down.
Utah’s recent past indicates considerable change following the last few elections. Governor Leavitt left to join the Bush Administration. Governor Herbert became Governor after Jon Huntsman left within the first year of his second term to become Ambassador to China. Governor Herbert faced an election in 2010. He faced it again in 2012. We have also had Lt. Governor Greg Bell resign and replaced by Spencer Cox in October 2013. The new Lt. Governor is not facing election this November.
Rather than risk an unelected lieutenant governor stepping into the most powerful position in the State for up to four years, those against Amendment B would like the legislature to revisit the issue in January 2015 and possibly avoid that situation and yet another constitutional amendment change.
The Utah Legislature voted as follows: Senate 24-0-5, House 68-1-6.
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Source: Utah Lt. Governor’s Office, Utah Governor’s Office, Wikipedia, Utah State Legislature