Bill would eliminate lieutenant governor's office

February 10, 2010 4:25:48 PM PST
There is more fallout from Scott Lee Cohen's victory in the lieutenant governor's race in the Illinois primary. Cohen has stepped down, but to avoid similar problems in the future, one powerful politician wants to eliminate the post.It is a bill to eliminate the lieutenant governor's position in Illinois. Because it was introduced by State House Speaker Michael Madigan, it is likely to pass his chamber and the senate, and appear as a November ballot issue to amend the state constitution.

State House Speaker Michael Madigan has introduced a bill to eliminate the lieutenant governor's position in Illinois.

The Madigan bill would eliminate the lieutenant governor's office by the term beginning in January 2015.

If for some reason the governor elected for that term and future terms could not finish four years in office, he or she would be replaced by the Illinois attorney general.

Speaker Madigan, who also is the Illinois Democratic chairman, apparently did not consult with members of the party's central committee before introducing his legislation.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with having a position of lieutenant governor," said Rep. Danny Davis, (D) Chicago.

Davis and 37 other members of the central committee eventually will select a replacement for Scott Lee Cohen, who won the Democrat's primary last week but resigned after allegations of abuse, drug use and failure to pay child support.

Meanwhile, another bill has been filed in the senate to have Illinois lieutenant governor candidates run federal style with candidates for governor.

Madigan bill would require a three-fifths majority to pass both the house and senate. Then, in November, voters must approve the changes in the general election.

Newly elected Democratic Central Committee member Ricky Munoz, who heard of the Madigan bill Wednesday afternoon, wants to take it one step at a time.

"At some point, we're going to have to take a close look at government to see if these offices are necessary but right now, the office exists and there's process by which we should be filling it," said Munoz.

Finally, Governor Pat Quinn, who was elevated from lieutenant governor last year, opposes changing the constitution. He says, "The office can serve as a strong voice for everyday people, including veterans, service members and their families."

To appear on the November ballot, the issue raised by the Madigan bill has to be passed by May 2 at the latest. The effort to get rid of the office could also affect the number of candidates who might be interested in replacing Scott Lee Cohen.