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A common sense law?

carlson CHRIS


Some state senator or some state representative somewhere in Idaho should ask Legislative Services to draft a bill for consideration by leadership that makes so much common sense it will probably be rejected—or consigned to oblivion in some committee chairman’s desk drawer.

The bill, if enacted, would prohibit a governor and a lieutenant governor from flying anywhere together on the same aircraft.

In Idaho, far more frequently than one may realize, Lt. Gov. Brad Little hooks a ride with Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, especially during the campaign season when both are appearing at the same venue. That they may split the expense if the campaign is reimbursing the state for the flight to save both campaigns a few dollars is beside the point.

Even during the “non-campaign” season, though, Brad would hook a ride with Butch if both, as they often did, were participating in Governor Otter’s frequent Capitol For A Day visits across Idaho. Given Idaho’s sad history of plane crashes changing political history, one would think they would not fly together. But they do They like each other and enjoy each other’s company and there’s no law against it. But there should be.

While Idaho has yet to lose a sitting governor to an airplane crash, despite its mountainous terrain and its variable and changeable weather, all one has to do is to look at the neighboring states of Oregon and Montana for examples of sitting governors dying in a plane crash.

On October 28th, 1947, Oregon Governor Earl Snell, along with Oregon’s Secretary of State and its State Senate president, and their pilot all died in a plane crash east of Klamath Falls—-sad proof that it can happen and it can wipe out part of a state’s political leadership if they are flying together.

On January 25th, 1962, Montana Governor Don Nutter also died in a plane crash.

For Brad to fly with Butch is unnecessary risk-taking and it ought to stop. The bottom line is that we as taxpayers have an investment in the lieutenant governor, whomever he or she is. They are truly governors in waiting, and part of the purpose of the office is to ensure a smooth transition to capable hands should, Gof forbid, something happen to the sitting governor.
The writers of Idaho’s State Constitution as far back as 1888 and 1889 saw the wisdom in giving the lieutenant governor all the powers of the governor when the governor is out of state. For one thing, if they were of different parties, it would serve as a way to keep the governor close to home doing the job.

There is even a strict notification protocol that has to be followed of notifying the line of succession every time the governor and/or lieutenant governor leave the state. For example, even if they leave Idaho’s airspace for just 15 minutes, as happens when they fly from Boise to the Pullman-Moscow airport located just over the state line before driving back into Idaho, the line of succession has to be officially notified.

In Idaho, if both governors were to perish in the same accident the line of succession provides the Speaker of the House (Today that would be Scott Bedke from Oakley) would next serve as governor and if something were to happen to him the President Pro Tempore of the Senate (Today that would be Senator Brent Hill from Rexburg) would be next.

Idaho is fortunate in that the line of succession is filled with veteran and experienced politicians who would be capapble of quickly stepping up to the job, but no one wants a governor who has to be trained while doing the job

Incidentally, and not insignificantly, whoever is acting governor sees their daily pay rate rise up to that of the governor. After all, the individual is the governor, if not for a day, at least a part of the day.

Some states already prohibit a governor and a lieutenant governor from traveling together anywhere at anytime in anything regardless if plane, train or car. These are states that recognize there is an investment made in having and training a lieutenant governor to be ready to step into the role full-time if Fate so decrees.

Here’s hoping such a bill finds a sponsor, is printed and at least gets a hearing. Here’s hoping that both Butch and Brad recognize the common sense of the legislation and endorse it.

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