Does Arkansas really need a lieutenant governor? Not everyone thinks so.


Arkansas has been without a lieutenant governor for most of the year following the resignation of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr. (via Mark Darr)

Two Arkansas state senators are proposing an amendment to eliminate the office of the lieutenant governor, arguing the position is outdated and unneeded.

“The office is a vestige of the early 19th century, before telephones were common and before computer technology was ever dreamed of,” said Sen. Keith Ingram (D), who is planning on co-sponsoring a resolution, in a statement.

Arkansas has been without a lieutenant governor after Mark Darr (R) resigned in February following ethics charges, and the state has been fine without him, the governor’s office said.

“It has not disrupted the function of the state,” Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe (D) told the Post.

Since Darr’s resignation, his office has been empty, and his four staff members have left and found other jobs.

It’s estimated eliminating the office would save the state $450,000 a year, Sen. Jimmy Hickey (R) said. “There are many pressing needs for the revenue now being spent on the office of the lieutenant governor,” he said. “People want us to streamline government, and this is a great way to do it.”

According to the Arkansas constitution, the duties of the lieutenant governor are to preside over the Senate and serve as acting governor at times, including when the governor is out of state. Under this proposal, the attorney general would fill the role of acting governor if the governor were unable to fulfill his duties.

Hickey and Ingram said they plan to co-sponsor a Senate Joint Resolution to get rid of the office that if adopted would be put before voters in 2016.

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, who said he would not seek reelection and turned down running for governor and U.S. Senate, announced in February he was running for Arkansas lieutenant governor.

“The decision to leave Congress and return home was an agonizing decision but the right one for my young family,” Griffin said in a statement. “Since that announcement, I have been urged to continue public service, and I am humbled and honored at the encouragement I have received from all over our wonderful state.”

Hunter Schwarz covers state and local politics and policy across the country for the Washington Post.
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