CHARLESTON- Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin Thursday proposed the creation of a lieutenant governor who would become chief executive upon a vacancy in the office.
The post would require a constitutional amendment and is part of Tomblin's proposal to solve a problem with the laws determining gubernatorial succession.
The governor held a press conference Thursday afternoon in Charleston where he said he is forming a panel to put together a proposal to go before the Legislature.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Tomblin said he had three goals in asking for the position of lieutenant governor. He wants the position to better clarify the constitution in regard to the succession, to cost as little as possible to the taxpayers and he does not want the position to be a figurehead whose powers are only activated when a replacement for the governor is needed.
The succession issue and whether a special election to fill the unexpired term should be called as soon as possible has overshadowed the Legislature prior to it convening on Wednesday. Tomblin, who became governor by virtue of being president of the Senate, has said he would not call for a special election before 2012 for the unexpired term.
State officials including Auditor Glen Gainer and House Speaker Richard Thompson have urged a special election. The West Virginia Citizens Action Group in November filed suit in the state Supreme Court to compel a special election and the organization has the support of the West Virginia AFL-CIO and the West Virginia Education Association.
Sen. Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, was successful in aligning senators to change the rules to vote for an acting Senate president in the absence of the president. The 34 senators were evenly split on the rule change until some switched over to the Kessler side.
Tomblin said the transition of power was followed as state statute dictates. However, he looks forward to the hearing the arguments presented in the state Supreme Court and the discussions it will present.
Tomblin said he had three goals in asking for the position of Lt. Governor to be created. He wants the position to better clarify the state constitution in the regard to the succession of the governor if something happens. He wants to position to cost as little to the taxpayers as possible. Finally, he does not want the position to be a figurehead whose powers are only activated when a replacement for the governor is needed.
Read the entire story in Friday's issue of The Parkersburg News