The Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska: Constitutional Duties


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The Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska possesses both legislative and executive powers, though the executive powers are achieved mainly through grants of authority by the Governor of Nebraska.

The legislative powers of this office are referenced in Article III, Section 10 of the Nebraska Constitution. Specifically, the lieutenant governor formally presides over the unicameral (one house) Nebraska Legislature. The reader will note that I have not labeled the Lieutenant Governor acting in this capacity as President of the Nebraska Legislature–the Constitution is silent about this, simply indicating that they shall serve as presiding officer, with no formal title attached.  In addition, the Lieutenant Governor does have the ability break tie votes, but does not vote otherwise on bills.

The executive powers of the office are mentioned in Article IV, Section 16 of the Nebraska Constitution. Three specific powers of the office are referenced:

  • 1. Serves on all boards and commissions in lieu of Governor when so designated (italics added)
  • 2. Performs other duties as assigned by the Governor
  • 3. Serves on a full-time basis

Works Cited

Nebraska Legislature. Nebraska Constitution. Lincoln, Nebraska.



The Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico: Constitutional Responsibilities


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The constitutional powers of the New Mexico Lieutenant Governor are listed in two different articles of the Constitution of the State of New Mexico. The powers listed in Article 5, which is dedicated to the executive branch, will be discussed first. Then, the power listed in Article 4, the section dedicated to the legislative branch, will be referenced.

Article 5, Section 8 indicates that the Lieutenant Governor shall serve as President of the New Mexico Senate, and shall have the ability to vote in the Senate, but possesses only a casting vote. In Article 4, Section 8, the sole listed legislative power of the state’s second-ranking officer is to call the Senate into order. However, the document does not specifically provide for nor, does it prohibit, the lieutenant governor from assuming powers provided by statute.

Works Cited

Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Secretary of State. Constitution, 1911-2017. Santa Fe, NM. 53.

Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Secretary of State. Constitution, 1911-2017. Santa Fe, NM. 27.

The Lieutenant Governor of Kansas: Constitutional Duties


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The Lieutenant Governor of Kansas has minimal constitutional responsibilities, making the office one of the weakest second-ranking offices in the United States. But, the Kansas Constitution does specifically mention in Article 1, Section 12 that the office “shall assist the governor,” though the document is silent on how that assistance shall be rendered, leaving it up to the chief executive of the state to make that determination.

In addition, the second portion of Article 1, Section 12 grants the state legislature power to confer upon the lieutenant governor any duties that it sees fit.

Work Cited

Kansas State Constitution. Topeka, Kansas. Article 1, Section 12.

The Lieutenant Governor of Colorado: Constitutional Duties


From a constitutional perspective, the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado is one the weakest second-ranking state executives in the nation. This is because the Colorado Constitution sets aside no specific duties for the office.

The office is acknowledged in Article I as being part of the executive branch of the State of Colorado, but that is it. Until the mid-1970’s, Colorado’s Lieutenant Governor also served in a legislative capacity, as President of the State Senate. So, currently, their power and duties are dependent upon the willingness of the Governor and the Legislature to grant them to the office.


Works Cited

State of Colorado. The Constitution of the State of Colorado. Denver, CO.

The Lieutenant Governor of Utah: Statutory Duties


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Utah’s Lieutenant Governor has a narrow, but critical range of duties. Specifically, Chapter 67, Title 1A, Section 2 of the Utah Code spells out the powers bestowed upon the office.

The primary power designated to this office is their duty as chief elections officer for the people of Utah. In this capacity, the Lieutenant Governor is responsible for carrying out all aspects of the election process: overseeing candidate filings, receiving contribution information, monitoring Political Action Committees (PACs) active in the state, determining residency for candidates, reporting election results, etc. In addition, any reference to a Secretary of State in the Utah Code is referring to the Lieutenant Governor.

Another important power designated to the Lieutenant Governor of Utah is their power overseeing all aspects of the annexation process for local government in the state. Any proposed boundary action impacting a local agency is overseen by the Lieutenant Governor.

A third duty of the office is their role to serve–at the pleasure of the Governor–as an official gubernatorial adviser, a liaison to the state legislature, or with the approval of the legislature, as chief of other state agencies.

In addition, the Lieutenant Governor may propose their own office budget for each fiscal year and send it to the legislature for approval, rather than rely on the Governor for an annual appropriation request.

Further, a fifth power provided to the Lieutenant Governor is their role as custodian of the Great Seal of Utah. The office ensures that the Great Seal is used in accordance with the approved process, and is not abused in any way.

Sixth, the Utah Lieutenant Governor commissions notary publics in the state, and is empowered to administer oaths of office to other public officers as well.

Finally, the Lieutenant Governor is formally designated as the Chair of the Utah Commission on Civic and Character Education, which is tasked with promoting civic involvement in schools and the community throughout Utah.

These grants of power to the office have allowed Utah’s Lieutenant Governor to carve out an important and independent base for the office in the administration of state government, and follows the path of lieutenant governorships created  in the 20th-century, which tend to be focused primarily on executive duties, with either a limited or no role for the office in the machinery of the state legislature.

Works Cited

State of Utah. Utah State Code, Chapter 67, Title 1A, Section 2. Salt Lake City.

“About Us.” The Utah Commission on Civic and Character Education. State of Utah. August 22, 2017.

The Lieutenant Governor of Utah: Constitutional Duties

The constitutional responsibilities of Utah’s lieutenant governor are general in nature, with no broad grant of any kind of authority. This is due to the fact that their lieutenant governor, with the creation of the office in 1975, assumed the statutory duties of Utah’s secretary of state, which are, as will be seen in another, future post, rather detailed.

Article 7, Section 14 of the Utah Constitution are where the three specific duties of Utah’s lieutenant governor can be found. This area was added to Utah Constitution in 1980, and have remained unchanged since then. They are:

  1. serve on all boards and commissions in lieu of the Governor whenever so designated by the Governor;
  2. perform such duties as may be delegated by the Governor; and
  3. perform other duties as may be provided by statute.

A cursory glance at these duties would leave one with the impression that Utah’s lieutenant governor is a very weak office. But, as noted above, the powers in this office are very detailed when Utah statutes are assessed.

Works Cited

Utah Constitutional Revision Commission. Utah State Constitution. Salt Lake City. 34.



The Lieutenant Governor of Utah: Origins of the Office


The Lieutenant Governor of Utah is a rather recent office, created in 1975 by the Utah State Legislature. House Bill 140 (HB 140) was the legislation that created the office. Until the Lieutenant Governor’s office was begun, the second-ranking office in Utah was the Secretary of State. With the passage of HB 140, the Secretary of State was appointed the first Lieutenant Governor. In 1976, the Utah Secretary of State’s office was formally abolished, with the duties of that office being transferred to the Lieutenant Governor.

Works Cited

Utah State Legislature. Laws of Utah 1975, Chapter 202. Salt Lake City, Utah, 913-914

Lieutenant Governor of Nevada: Statutory Executive Authority

The Lieutenant Governor of Nevada possesses what could best be described as very weak executive branch authority. Formally, Nevada’s Lieutenant Governor sits as a member of only three state commissions. Those three commissions are the Governor’s Board on Economic Development (Nevada Chapter 231.033), the Department of Transportation Board of Directors (Nevada Chapter 408.106), and the Nevada Commission on Tourism (Nevada Chapter 231.160).

None of those three statutory assignments provide for the Lieutenant Governor to serve as chair, and any additional committee/board/commission assignments they receive are purely at the will of the appointing authority.

Nevada’s Lieutenant Governor: Constitutional Grant of Legislative Authority

This blog entry will address and briefly assess the legislative power of Nevada’s Lieutenant Governor.

Article 5, Section 17 of the Nevada Constitution addresses the office of lieutenant governor. According to this document, the lieutenant governor is designated as President of the Nevada State Senate, but possesses only a casting (tie-breaking) vote within that body. How, then, is that delegation of power actually translated into the daily operations of Nevada’s upper house? To add another dilemma, the Nevada Constitution, in the section of the document devoted entirely to the legislative branch, permits each chamber to create their own operating rules, which could allow for severe restriction of the lieutenant governor’s authority as president of the upper house.

However, according to the rule book governing the Nevada Senate, the Senate President has broad authority, including addressing points of order, document signing power, and they control what is termed as the “general direction” of the chamber. And, rather significantly, the lieutenant governor does, unlike in some other states, actually spend significant amounts of time presiding over sessions of the State Senate. An assessment of the 2015 daily journal history of the Nevada Senate confirms a continual presence of the lieutenant governor acting in this legislative role. Thus, the Lieutenant Governor of Nevada does possess and currently exercises legislative branch authority.

The next entry in this blog will address the statutory duties of the Lieutenant Governor of Nevada.

Works Cited

State of Nevada. Constitution of Nevada. Article 5, Section 17.

Nevada State Senate. Senate Standing Rules. Article 1: Officers and Employees-Rule 1.

Nevada Legislature. Journals. 78th (2015) Session Journals.


California’s Lieutenant Governor: 2003 Gubernatorial Recall Duties



California State Capitol

The recall of a sitting governor in California has occurred once since World War II, in 2003 when incumbent chief executive Gray Davis was successfully removed. The California Constitution, through Article II, Section 17 assigns the task of overseeing the recall of a sitting governor to the lieutenant governor. Specifically, that section states, “if a recall of the Governor or Secretary of State is initiated, the recall duties of that office shall be performed by the Lieutenant Governor or Controller, respectively” (California Secretary of State, 2014). Over time, that rather broad mission has narrowed to one task: setting the date for the recall election. And, what will be briefly reviewed here is how that process was carried out by Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante during the recall of Governor Davis in 2003.

The dilemma faced by Cruz Bustamante in 2003 was one familiar to those who face a two-term limit in California’s plural executive constitutional offices. Bustamante was planning to use his platform as the state’s second-in-command to run for governor in 2006 when Davis was termed out, a long-term timetable that, with the fast-moving recall of Davis in motion throughout early 2003, was left in shambles. And, when Kevin Shelly, the Secretary of State, verified that enough signatures had been gathered in July of 2003, it fell upon Bustamante to set the date of the recall election, a task he tried for a short time avoid making.

First, Bustamante tried to sidestep the issue, by indicating he would ask either the state supreme court or a rather vague state body, the Commission on the Governorship, to rule on the issue about whether to call an election. (Broder 2003). But, this commission’s mission is directly related to currently existing vacancies in that office, not the issue of whether or not to call a special election to potentially replace a sitting chief executive. (California Government Code, 2015…Division 3, Part 2, Chapter 1, Sections 12070-12076).

Proponents of the recall were very vocal in their insistence that an election had to be called, and not punted to an obscure state commission indirectly related to the decision Bustamante was faced with making. And election law experts were almost unanimously opposed to his thinking about deferring the decision. Taking these awkward steps appeared to make the lieutenant governor look weak and indecisive, at the very time the office needed to project an image of efficient executive decision-making. After a few days of wavering and obfuscating—apparently as he weighed his own chances of succeeding to  the governorship—Bustamante relented and set the date for the recall election (Gonzales 2003).

The lieutenant governor’s office is not often in the spotlight and is rarely forced to lead in a time of political crisis in the state. The hesitation of Bustamante at a time when a simple decision was needed may have had two ramifications. First, it may have reinforced a political stereotype that those who hold this office may not be ready when forced to lead. Second, his reluctance to lead in this situation may have played a part when Bustamante decided a few weeks later to run unsuccessfully for Governor in the recall.


Broder, John. “Questions and Assumptions Surround the Recall Process. New York Times. July 24, 2003, A14.

California Government Code. Division 3, Part 2, Chapter 1, Sections 12070-12076.

Gonzales, Richard. “Analysis: Recall election in California to be held in October.” Morning Edition. National Public Radio, July 25, 2003.