CRC Proposal Expanding Florida's Lieutenant Governor Duties Will Not Be On Nov. Ballot

Mar 21, 2018

Sen. Tom Lee (R-Brandon)
Credit ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

A proposal to expand the duties of Florida’s Lieutenant Governor will not be on the November ballot.

Sen. Tom Lee (R-Brandon) calls his proposal a simple one: allow the Florida’s lieutenant Governor to be appointed to lead a state agency.

“The proposal would merely require that the Lieutenant Governor be appointed by the Governor to one of the 10 department heads that the Governor currently has the authority to appoint in addition to serving in his role as Lieutenant Governor,” he said. “We spend about $1 million a year on support services and salary for the lieutenant governor. It was just an idea to get not only a bigger bang for our buck, but at the same time, also create some added value and some self-actualization for the individual that is serving as Lieutenant Governor in the Executive Branch.”

Lee—in his capacity as a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission—tried to convince his fellow CRC members to expand the duties of the Lieutenant Governor. It’s a position that normally does not have much to do.

“I think we’re better off with this in the Constitution than we are under the present situation with a Lieutenant Governor that is among three of the weakest lieutenant Governors in the United States of America, and actually serves no formal function whatsoever other than to help elect a Governor at election time,” he added.

The CRC is a 37-member panel that meets every 20 years to revise the state’s constitution and put matters before Florida voters. And, it met this week to discuss three dozen proposals, including Lee’s.

But, Lee’s proposal got some pushback.

Former Senator Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa), also a CRC member, wondered if the lieutenant Governor would be qualified to lead any of the state agencies, like the Department of Health.

“With respect to the Governor having the right to appoint someone, irrespective of the qualifications that are required of others who would be appointed,” she said. “And, I think the example was the Secretary of Health is normally a medical doctor, and the Lieutenant Governor may not be.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi—also a member of the CRC—pointed to other agencies.

“In dealing with many of these agencies over the past seven years, I know the Department of Corrections is highly qualified in law enforcement, the Department of Children and Families obviously with aspects of children,” she said. “I think the only one you mentioned is Lottery, which I don’t much about—and perhaps would fit, but I think that’s another problem that many of these require very specialized skills.”

And, some also questioned whether the Governor can do this already without the CRC’s help—which Lee says can be done.

Still, former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) saw the merit’s in Lee’s proposal.

“I think we’ve had some great lieutenant governors, who actually had jobs,” he said. “And, then, we’ve had some lieutenant governors who’ve sort of wandered the halls with their hands in their pockets, a waste of human resources, and it’s just sort of the way it was. So, I support Senator Lee’s proposal.”

But, CRC Proposal 66 failed on a 12-20 vote.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.