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What Idaho's constitution says about transfer of power from governor to acting governor

Idaho Statehouse
Posted at 6:44 PM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-06 20:53:36-04

BOISE, Idaho — The transfer of authority when the Governor of Idaho is out of state is laid out in the State's constitution.

The constitution states:

"In case of temporary inability to perform his duties, or in the case of his temporary absence from the state, the lieutenant governor shall perform such duties as acting governor until the disability is removed, or until the governor returns to the state."

Related: McGeachin signs executive order banning mask mandates

In May, when McGeachin issued a similar Executive Order, the Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane said the order appeared to be an effort to undermine other authorities.

"This executive order does not seek to ensure laws are faithfully executed," Kane said. "Oddly, it seems to have been issued in an effort to undermine the existing authorities of the state and its political subdivisions to issue mask mandates. This executive order appears to run counter to both the Idaho Constitution and the Governor’s statutory executive order authority."

But can the state change the statute about transferring the authority to the lieutenant governor?

Professor of Law at the University of Idaho and Constitutional expert Shaakirrah Sanders said it's complicated.

"Now it's a tricky provision, right? because governors leave the state all the time," Sanders said. "Often times on Governor business and very well may be that the citizens of Idaho really give this some thought and think about change and that would take a constitutional amendment to the state constitution. I think many people may think, do we really need the lt. governor to become acting governor if the governor is away on governor business?"

Related: Gov. Little overturns McGeachin's executive order banning COVID-19 mandates

Late Wednesday, Gov. Little repealed McGeachin's Executive Order while in Texas, which could face legal scrutiny as well because of the statute that passes the authority to the Lt. Governor while Governor is out of state. Gov. Little could use this to enact change to the state's statute.