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Arizona House OKs bill to create lieutenant governor office

mThe state House passed one of two bills Tuesday to create an office of lieutenant governor by 2023 pending Arizona voters’ approval.

The bill by Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, outlines the duties and responsibilities of the position and would make the lieutenant governor the director of the Arizona Department of Administration.

Voters failed to approve similar propositions to create the office in 1994 and 2010, but Mesnard said his proposals fix previous problems.

“This is the version that makes the most sense in terms of making sure they are the most prepared, there’s continuity from one administration to the next, and the lieutenant governor has actual responsibilities,” he said.

The state wouldn’t have to pay for an additional salary, and the new lieutenant governor could reap the benefits of knowing all that happens inside the Arizona Department of Administration, Mesnard said.

“This bill conceives the governor taking over the responsibilities of the director of ADOA because ADOA is plugged into every aspect of the executive branch in some capacity,” he said.

House Bill 2265 passed on a 34-26 vote and now moves to the Senate, but the House still needs to pass another proposal for Mesnard’s bill to matter.

House Concurrent Resolution 2024 would send the proposition to the 2016 general election ballot to ask voters to amend the state constitution and create the position of lieutenant governor.

If the proposition passes, it would allow a nominee for lieutenant governor to run on a joint ticket with a candidate for governor in general elections beginning in 2023. The resolution asserts that a vote for a gubernatorial candidate would also count as a vote for the lieutenant governor on their ticket, similar to a presidential election.

Opponents say the position would cost the state money because it would still require its own staff.

“In the end, I think we are going to see a lot more costs for government,” said Phil Lovas, R-Peoria.

About 68 percent of voters rejected the 1994 measure, which would have created a new office of lieutenant governor. About 53 percent voted against the 2010 measure, which would have changed the position of secretary of state to lieutenant governor.

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