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Oregon Representative files bill to create an elected lieutenant governor

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January 15, 2011

By Eileen McGuire-Mahony

Citing the potential benefit to the state, a Central Point Republican wants to create a new executive office

SALEM, Oregon: As one of the only five states in the nation that does not have a lieutenant governor's office, Oregon may be a step closer to making it an electable position. Republican lawmaker Dennis Richardson, a longtime member of the State House, is sponsoring a bill that would create a new position on the state's executive.

Citing the need to bring businesses into Oregon, Richardson described his bill as the solution to the problem of an overworked governor: “My experience in the Legislature for the past seven years has shown me that the governor is so immersed in so many different things that he really doesn’t spend the time necessary to help promote Oregon in international trade, for investments, and to attract businesses to come to Oregon.”[1] Currently, the Oregon Business Development Department, headed by Tim McCabe, is charged with attracting business and promoting trade. Richardson says that agency's record speaks for itself, pointing to a decade of high unemployment, unimproved by the companies that have located in Oregon.

Rather, says Richardson, he wants the state to follow the lead of overseas nations that represent potential trading partners for Oregon, where a high-ranking official acts as both prominent ambassador and full-time contact point for growing trade and landing businesses.

His bill, a Joint Resolution, calls for an elected Lieutenant Governor who would be the legally designated first to succeed the Governor. If his bill passes, Secretary of State Kate Brown would draft nominating rules for the office and an amendment would be referred to the voters on Oregon's next primary date, tentatively set for May 15, 2012.[2] A similar bill was introduced in 2007, ultimately failing.[3]

John Lim, a Republican who sought the Governor's office in the 2010 midterms, pushed for creating a lieutenant governor's seat during his own 11 year legislative tenure.[4] His recommendations were the position echo those of Rep. Richardson – the need for a point man on trade issues and the overwhelmingly workload of the Governor.