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Like the California Constitution, statutory law in California provides the lieutenant governor with only a few specific duties, one of which might soon be abolished. First, the lieutenant governor does sit as an ex-officio member of the California State University (CSU) board of trustees, which does provide the office some clout with regards to student-centered issues.

In addition, the lieutenant governor presides as Chair of the California Commission for Economic Development. This commission was established in 1971 to serve as a bi-partisan advisory board on several policy areas related to economic development, and its membership consists of six appointed legislators and ten appointed private sector members. To underscore the bi-partisan nature of the group, the vice-chair of the commission must hail from a different political party than the lieutenant governor.  By some accounts, the commission has seen little activity since the mid-1990’s, with an occasional meeting being held now and then, the most recent apparently having occurred in April of 2013.  And, no roster of commission members is available via the lieutenant governor’s website as of May 29, 2014.

Another task the lieutenant governor is charged with according to state statute is to serve as a member (one of three, along with the Controller and Director of Finance) of the State Lands Commission. According to their website, the Commission is tasked with management of “sovereign” lands–better known as tidelands–extending from the coast to three miles out to sea, and “school” lands, the approximately 470,000 acres of land that remain granted to the state by Congress in 1853 for the benefit of public education, and additional 800,000 acres where the state, despite no longer having ownership, still retains mineral rights. In essence, the Commission appears to be involved heavily with geothermal, oil. mining, and other mineral-related issues, and clearly is the most influential commission or board the lieutenant governor sits on, owing to its 3-person membership, rotating chairmanship, and significant number of formal activities.

A final commission that California’s lieutenant governor is a member of–and one that may well be abolished soon–is the California Collider Commission. This board apparently was created in the 1980’s to help develop a super-collider project in the Golden State, and according to scattered news archives, appears to have seen its zenith in the late 1980’s as various states developed proposals for just such a project to be presented to the federal government. This commission does not appear to have met since that time, and due to its archaic nature, has been proposed as part of AB 2763 (2014) to be dissolved.

Thus, state statutes do provide California’s lieutenant governor some, though not a great deal, of significant responsibilities.

 

 

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