State Senator David Parker, a Republican from Desoto County, filed a bill in the 2021 Session that would create a 90-day time frame in which the Governor and Lt. Governor would be required to fill vacant offices.
According to SB 2196, the clock would begin ticking as soon as the office became vacant and if an appointment is not made by the Governor in 90 days, the power to do so would transfer to the Lt. Governor. The Lt. Governor would then be required to make the appointment “as soon as practicable.”
In the same vein, the Lt. Governor would have 90 days for his appointments before they would then roll over to the Governor’s office.
The bill does not, however, apply to the appointment of constitutional positions to the State Board of Education, Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, or any office for which a contingency for an appointing authority’s failure to make an appointment or fill a vacancy is provided by statute.
Senator Parker said his intention behind the bill was to allow for appointments to be made even in a time when one executive office could be busier than another.
“It allows some of those very needed appointments to be made even in a time of crisis,” said Parker. He used the example of 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the extraordinary circumstances that officials faced. While some offices had more on their plate than others, Parker said a procedure like the one presented in the bill, could help move things along.
Currently, state law does not require that an appointment be made within any particular time frame. Parker said the allocation of 90 days is nothing magical and could be changed during the legislative process.
“This bill just puts an extra backup in place to allow that appointment to go to another member of the executive branch,” said Parker.
The Speaker of the House is not included in the bill as he does not make any appointments, but he does make recommendations to the Executive officers for such appointments.
Since the bill dropped, Parker said he has had some conversation with the Lt. Governor on its language but hopes to have more before the bill goes through committee.
The Governor and Lt. Governor’s office did not comment on the bill at this time.