Executive Branch Successors and the Line of Succession

Crises demand leadership. The time to address an orderly succession of executive branch  power is before a crisis occurs. This decade offers states examples of questions and legal challenges which may arise if state constitutional language or statute on executive branch succession is incomplete, unclear or in conflict with other state statutes. The governor’s office may be vacated before the official completion of a term due to death, resignation, incapacitation, impeachment or recall. State law should define a clear and sufficiently deep line of gubernatorial succession. State leaders should consider establishing a specific process to declare a governor incapacitated, either temporarily or permanently. States may also review to ensure statute surrounding impeachment and recall provisions are not in conflict with Constitutional and other statutory language on succession.

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About the Author
Julia Nienaber Hurst is executive director of the National Lieutenant Governors Association (www.nlga.us). Hurst’s nearly 20 years of state government experience include time as chief operating officer of The Council of State Governments, four sessions as a legislative chief of staff, and time as a multistate lobbyist.

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