AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage wants to get rid of the secretary of state position and replace it with a lieutenant governor.

The duties of the secretary of state, from running elections to licensing drivers, would come under the lieutenant governor, who would be first in the line of succession to replace the governor.

The governor’s office confirmed it is drafting legislation that would make that change to the state’s Constitution, and change the way two other constitutional officers are chosen. LePage wants the governor, not the Legislature, to name the attorney general and state treasurer.

Gov. LePage has had numerous disagreements with the current attorney general, Janet Mills, who was appointed by the Democratic legislature.

Although the bill has yet to be submitted, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting has confirmed its rough outline with Peter Steele, the governor’s director of communications, and with Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.

Maine is one of five states without lieutenant governors. In states with lieutenant governors, they are first in the line of succession to be governor, should the governor die or vacate the office. In Maine, the Senate president would become governor if the governor left office prematurely.

The changes favored by LePage would require an amendment to the Maine Constitution. That requires two-thirds approval by the Legislature and majority approval by voters statewide.

Jodi Quintero, communications director for Speaker of the House Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, said, “The Speaker takes any kind of constitutional change seriously and would want to see the details of the bill before providing judgment.”

Dunlap said LePage told him about the bill while Dunlap was being sworn into office on Jan. 8. “He said, ‘What I’m going to put in this legislation would basically replace the secretary,'” Dunlap said.

The lieutenant governor and governor would run as a team on the ballot, Dunlap said.

The other states without lieutenant governors are Arizona, New Hampshire, Oregon and Wyoming. In West Virginia and Tennessee, the senate president is also the lieutenant governor.

Lieutenant governors’ responsibilities vary by state, said Julia Hurst, executive director of the National Lieutenant Governors Association.

“The only thing that all lieutenant governors do is succeed the governor should that have to take place,” she said.

In some states lieutenant governors preside over the Senate, and in others they lead investigations, manage elections or head state initiatives. Utah and Alaska have replaced their secretaries of state with lieutenant governors, Hurst said.

Maine has considered creating a lieutenant governor position at least twice. Bills were introduced in 1994 and 1995, but both were defeated in the House.

Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting Editor-in-Chief John Christie contributed to this report.

The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service based in Augusta, can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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