Two Arkansas senators said Thursday that they plan to lead a “bipartisan effort” to get rid of the office of lieutenant governor when the legislature convenes in January.
State Sens. Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis, and Jimmy Hickey Jr., R-Texarkana, will lead the effort, according to an Arkansas Senate news release.
The effort would require voter approval of a constitutional amendment, and the legislature may refer up to three proposed amendments during each regular session.
Ingram called the lieutenant governor's office a "vestige of the early 19th century," and Hickey estimated that abolishing the office "would save Arkansas taxpayers about $450,000 a year."
The lieutenant governor’s office is currently vacant. Former Lt. Gov. Mark Darr resigned in February and his entire staff resigned five months later, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette previously reported.
The two senators said they plan to co-sponsor a joint resolution that would add a proposed constitutional amendment jettisoning the office, effective Jan. 1, 2019, to the November 2016 general election ballot.
Under the senators' plan, the lieutenant governor’s race winner in November would be able to serve out the full four-year term but there would be no statewide election for the office in 2018.
Ingram and Hickey said that if the governor resigned or were unable to fulfill the duties of the office because of health problems or impeachment, the state attorney general would assume the governor’s duties and vacate the attorney general’s office. The proposal also outlines a line of succession.
Hickey said he and Ingram were announcing the plan early "so that there would be sufficient opportunity to answer any questions the people have.”