Nov/Dec 2009

State News: August 2009



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Lieutenant Governor's Appointment a First for New York

By Mikel Chavers, CSG Associate Editor
In what The New York Times is calling “a stunning reversal,” New York’s highest court on Tuesday ruled that New York Gov. David A. Paterson does have the authority to appoint a lieutenant governor.
“This is a notable power for the governor and the 4-3 ruling answers a constitutional succession question in the state,” said Julia Hurst, executive director of the National Lieutenant Governors Association, an affiliate of The Council of State Governments. “The decision is also notable because New York is a state where the lieutenant governor becomes governor when the governor is out-of-state.” 
The court decision makes Richard Ravitch the first appointed lieutenant governor in New York’s history, according to The New York Times.
The court decision was divided—four judges agreed Paterson used the proper authority to appoint a lieutenant governor, while three judges said he did not, the newspaper reports. The 4-3 ruling affirmed the governor’s authority to make the appointment.
Interestingly, Paterson was lieutenant governor to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, becoming governor after Spitzer stepped down.
Twelve current governors first served as lieutenant governor or first in line of succession—including the governors of Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear served as lieutenant governor from 1984 to 1988, well before he won the governorship in 2007.
“The ever increasing impact of the office of lieutenant governor on the leadership of the nation in the states is renewing interest in the office of lieutenant governor,” Hurst said.

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