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Senate Democrat: Let Us Confirm Next Lieutenant Governor

Joyce Russell/IPR
Sen. Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines)

As Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds prepares to succeed Governor Branstad in the state’s highest office, a Democratic state senator wants a say in who becomes the next lieutenant governor.   

Sen. Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines) has filed a bill to require House and Senate confirmation for anyone becoming lieutenant governor without having been voted into office.   

The bill would require a simple majority vote, so Bisignano says Republicans could easily confirm Reynolds’s choice.

“They’ll still be able to control everything,” Bisignano said.   “That’s what Iowans voted for.”

But Bisignano says without a confirmation vote, the public would have no role in choosing the person who could eventually become governor.  

“So I don’t want it to be partisan,” Bisignano said.  “I want it to be just something the legislature looks at in the interim for the voters.” 

It's a check and balance

Bisignano says legislative confirmation provides an important check and balance to the executive branch.

The bill has been assigned to the Republican-controlled State Government Committee.  Chairman Roby Smith (R-Davenport) declined to comment on the bill.

Bisignano admits that in the future, confirmation could become partisan if a split legislature were required to confirm a lieutenant governor appointment.

I don't want it to be partisan

“This one would be a rubber stamp based on the large numbers the Republicans have here,” Bisignano said.  

A researcher in the Senate Democratic caucus says eight states require a lieutenant governor to be 

confirmed by the legislature.    

In Iowa history, Lt. Gov. Robert Fulton became governor very briefly after Harold Hughes left to serve in Congress in 1969.    Fulton did not choose a replacement because Governor Robert Ray and Lt. Gov. Roger Jepsen took office only 14 days later.