CONCORD, N.H. – New Hampshire legislators on Thursday heard arguments in favor of a constitutional amendment that would introduce a lieutenant governor to New Hampshire’s state government.
Currently, New Hampshire is one of only five states along with Arizona, Maine, Oregon and Wyoming that does not have a lieutenant governor. The state senate presidents of Tennessee and West Virginia double as lieutenant governors with no separate duties.
In New Hampshire, the state senate president is currently the individual next in line to become governor if the sitting governor resigns, becomes incapacitated or otherwise is unable to fulfill their duties.
The bill’s primary sponsor Michael Moffett (R-Loudon), introduced this legislation last year and felt it was important to introduce the legislation again. He shared concerns that a state senate president from a different party from the governor could be seen as a subversion of the will of voters. He also saw a lieutenant governor as someone that can help the governor with his role and that they should be paid $125 a year.
“Two governors for the price of one, essentially,” he said. “That’s not bigger government, that’s better government.”
Moffett envisioned the lieutenant government running on the same ticket as the governor and offered to pay their salary for the first year.
The bill was co-sponsored by Josh Adjutant (D-Enfield), Kristina Schultz (D-Concord) and Cam Kenney (D-Durham), with Schultz also providing testimony in favor of the bill.
Peter Schmidt (D-Dover) expressed concern over unforeseen costs due to the need for staff and other infrastructure such as vehicles that would need to be procured if a lieutenant governor becomes a reality.
Matthew Simon (R-Littleton) and Tim Horrigan (D-Durham) were concerned that the lieutenant governor might not be prepared to step into the role of governor in what could essentially be seen as a volunteer position. Tony Lekas (R-Hudson) expressed concern that the role would eventually become larger than what is proposed.
Lekas also pushed back against Moffett’s claim that the proposal was “exciting.”
“I don’t think adding more excitement to New Hampshire politics is a positive,” he said.
Dan McGuire (R-Epsom) was the only person providing testimony in opposition to the bill. McGuire noted that New Hampshire has the governor with the least authority in the country given that they are one of only two with a two-year term and no specific power other than vetoing legislation, with department commissioners often outlasting governors.
McGuire said that if the state were to have a lieutenant governor, it should come from the executive council, a five-member board within the executive branch of state government that approves gubernatorial appointments and most state contracts.