Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin spells out his reasons why the state should have an elected lieutenant governor in a Thursday news conference.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said Thursday he wants an amendment to the state constitution to provide for an elected lieutenant governor.
"We need to have some clarity in our constitution," Tomblin said during a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Tomblin announced that he will appoint a group to craft an amendment, one day after the state Supreme Court scheduled arguments on a legal challenge to demand a special election for governor this year.
As Senate president, Tomblin assumed the title of acting governor when Gov. Joe Manchin resigned Nov. 15 to become a U.S. senator. Tomblin believes the current state constitution allows him to serve in that position through the 2012 general election.
Tomblin on Thursday said having an elected lieutenant governor would provide clarity, even though he contended his transition to acting governor has been seamless.
"I don't think there's been any chaos at all," he said. "There's been no loss of service to the people out there."
However, he said that having an elected lieutenant governor would be a "much simpler process than what we've gone through recently."
Voters would have to approve a constitutional amendment. Forty-three states currently elect lieutenant governors.
Tomblin said he will tell the workgroup of state legal scholars to develop a job description for the new officer, possibly including requiring the lieutenant governor to fill a cabinet-level position, such as secretary of administration.
"I do not want to create a position that is simply a figurehead," he said.