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Office of the Lieutenant Governor


North Carolina's Constitution of 1776 made no provision for the office of lieutenant governor. Instead, Article Nineteen of the state's first constitution provided that in the case of the governor's death, inability, or absence from the state, the speaker of the state senate (or in his absence, the speaker of the house of commons) would exercise executive power. Until the Constitutional Convention of 1835, governors were elected annually by both houses of the legislature jointly, and it did not seem necessary to have a lieutenant governor.

After the Civil War, efforts were made to give North Carolina a new constitution. An abortive Constitution of 1866, which provided for an office of lieutenant governor, was defeated by popular vote. In 1868 the state finally approved a new constitution, which established the office of lieutenant governor and specified duties and power attached to the office.

Under the Constitution of 1868, a candidate for either lieutenant governor or governor was required to be at least thirty years old, a citizen of the United States for five years, and resident of North Carolina for two years. Chosen in a statewide election, for a term of four years, the lieutenant governor was to receive the same compensation as that for the speaker of the house of representatives.

The lieutenant governor was basically a part-time official and had two major responsibilities: to serve as president of the state senate and act as governor in the case of the governor's impeachment, absence from the state, or inability to discharge his constitutional duties. If the lieutenant governor was unable or incapable of fulfilling his responsibilities, the state senate was to elect one of its members to perform his duties, including the possible assumption of the powers and duties of the office of governor, as required by the constitution.

Very little legislation affecting the office of lieutenant governor was enacted between 1868 and 1961. Acts were passed providing for his traveling and per diem expenses (in 1911), putting to popular vote as a constitutional amendment the right of the General Assembly to establish his salary independently of other officials (in 1943), and fixing his salary under that amendment (in 1945 and 1953).

In 1961 the General Assembly put before the electorate an amendment to modify Articles II, III, and XIV of the constitution concerning succession to executive offices. Approved by popular vote on 6 November 1962, this amendment provided for the election by the state senate of a president pro tempore who would become president of the senate during any mental or physical incapacity of the lieutenant governor to perform his duties; or upon the lieutenant govenror's death, absence, resignation, removal from office, or failure to qualify as the president of the seante. The amendment provided that the lieutenant governor would become governor upon the failure of the govenor-elect to qualify for office, or upon the death, resignation, or removal from office of the governor. Upon the absence of the governor from the state or during any physical or mental incapacity of the governor, the lieutenant governor would serve as acting governor.

The legislature also defined the terms physical and mental incapacity. By a written statement filed with the secretary of state, the governor could declare that he was physically incapable of performing his job and that the lieutenant governor was to assume his duties of office; in a similar manner he could declare that he was physically capable of performing his duties and that he would resume his position. The mental incapacity of the governor to perform his duties of office could be determined by a joint resolution adopted by two-thirds of both houses of the General Assembly. When the General Assembly was not in session, a concurring majority of the members of the Council of State could convene the legislature to determine this question. In all cases, the governor was to be properly notified and given every opportunity to be heard.

The constitutional amendment of 1961 made provision for the legislature to adopt additional laws clarifying the further order of succession. As enacted, the order established by the legislature was governor, lieutenant governor, president pro tempore of the senate, speaker of the house of represenatives, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, attorney general, commissioner of agriculature, commissioner of labor, and finally, commissioner of insurance.

In 1963, 1967, 1977, 1979, and 1983 laws were passed fixing the lieutenant governor's salary and expense allowance. The 1965 pre- inauguration office space and funding was provided for the lieutenant governor and his transition staff.

In 1969 the General Assembly proposed extensive changes to the constitution. This major revision, known as the Constitution of 1971, was ratified by the electorate in November 1970, to become effective 1 July 1971. In it the legislature and governor were permitted to assign additional duties to the lieutenant governor, whose responsibilities otherwise remained the same.

The Lieutenant Governor's Office was also affected by the Executive Organization Act of 1971. The position was no longer part-time; the lieutenant governor was to maintain an office in Raleigh which was to be open during normal state working hours throughout the year. The first full-time lieutenant governor was James B. Hunt, Jr., a Democrat, who served from 1973 to 1977 under Republican Governor James E. Holshouser, Jr. In 1977 the General Assembly again enacted legislation affecting gubernatorial succession. An amendment, put before the voters and ratified 8 November 1977, permitted persons elected governor and lieutenant governor to be eligible to serve two consecutive terms, instead of one. The first lieutenant governor to serve two terms was James C. Green, who served from 1977 to 1985. A subsequent move by the legislature in 1985 to amend the constitution so that future governors and lieutenant governors could not succeed themselves for a second term was repealed by the General Assembly before a scheduled popular vote on it could take place in November 1986.

Under state senate rules the lieutenant governor, as president of the senate, appointed all senate committees, committee chairmen, and vice-chairmen. When a Republican lieutenant governor was elected in 1988, the senate of 1989 revised its rules and entrusted this appointive power to the president pro tempore, a member of the majority party in the in the senate. Legislation enacted by the General Assembly in 1991 affected the membership of ninety-five boards and commissions by transferring to the president pro tempore the appointive powers of the president of the senate.

The lieutenant governor also serves on such boards as the Economic Development Board, the North Carolina Capital Planning Commission, the North Carolina Small Business Council, the state Board of Community Colleges, and the State Board of Education.


References:
P.L., 1911, c. 103.

S.L., 1943, c. 497.

S.L., 1945, c. 1.

S.L., 1953, c. 1.

S.L., 1961, cc. 466, s. 1; 992, s. 1.

S.L., 1965, c. 407.

S.L., 1969, c. 1258, s. 6.

S.L., 1971, cc. 864, s. 1(5); 913; 1200.

S.L., 1977, cc. 363; 802, s. 42.6; 1136, s. 40.

S.L., 1979, c. 1137, s. 32.

S.L., 1983, c. 761, s. 204.

S.L., 1985, c. 617.

S.L., 1986, cc. 1010, 1027.

S.L., 1989, cc. 779; 781, ss. 40-41; 1038, s. 18.

S.L., 1991, c. 739.

G.S. 120-121.

G.S. 143A-5, 143A-11, 143A-13

Cheney, John L., Jr. ed. NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNMENT, 1583-1979.

Raleigh: Office of the Secretary of State, 1979. Pp. 813, 820-821,

833-834, 853-855, 931, 958-960, 972-996, 1024.

General Assembly. Senate. RULES-DIRECTORY. Raleigh, 1987. Pp. 13-14.

General Assembly. Senate. RULES DIRECTORY. Raleigh, 1989. Pp. 13-14.

Marcus, Lisa A., ed. NORTH CAROLINA MANUAL, 1993-1994. Raleigh:

Office of the Secretary of State, 1994. Pp. 139-140."

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