The amendment would clarify the Lt. Governor’s role in the gubernatorial line of succession if ratified.
t would repeal Article IV, Section 17 of the Iowa Constitution that reads:
“Lieutenant Governor to act as Governor. In case of the death, impeachment, resignation, removal from office, or other disability of the Governor, the powers and duties of the office for the residue of the term, or until he shall be acquitted, or the disability removed, shall devolve upon the lieutenant governor.”
If ratified, this language would replace the repealed section:
“Lieutenant governor or lieutenant governor-elect to become or act as Governor or governor-elect. If there is a temporary disability of the Governor, the lieutenant governor shall act as Governor until the disability is removed, or the Governor dies, resigns, or is removed from office. In case of the death, resignation, or removal from office of the Governor, the lieutenant governor shall become Governor for the remainder of the term, which shall create a vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor. This section shall also apply, as appropriate, to the governor-elect and the lieutenant governor-elect.”
There was a question about gubernatorial succession in 2017.
Former Governor Terry Branstad resigned after his confirmation to become U.S. Ambassador to China in the Trump administration. As a result, there was a question of whether then Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds would become the new Governor or act as Governor, prompting this proposed constitutional amendment.
In 2017, there was also a question of whether Reynolds could appoint a new Lt. Governor. She initially appointed Adam Gregg as an “acting Lt. Governor,” who was not officially in the line of succession until their ticket was elected in 2018.
The Iowa House passed HJR 2005 on February 23, 2002, with a mostly party-line vote, 63 to 34.
Iowa House Democrats were concerned that when the Lt. Governor becomes Governor, he or she could appoint a new Lt. Governor who would then be in the line of succession even though that person was not elected. Therefore, they attempted to pass an amendment that would require the new Lt. Governor to be confirmed by a majority of the Iowa House and Iowa Senate.
It failed 40 to 57.
This constitutional amendment will have to be passed again during the 90th General Assembly before Iowans can vote to ratify it.