Senate Bill Would Determine Who's Going to Miss the State of the State

Feb 16, 2012

State senators are moving to ensure that one top official is going to miss Jan Brewer's next State of the State speech. 

Under the Arizona constitution, if the governor dies, the secretary of state becomes the state's chief executive. The line of succession continues on down the line through the attorney general, the treasurer and the state school superintendent. Senator Judy Burges pointed out that all of these people are usually present at not only the annual State of the State speech but also their inaugural and other major events. 

"Stop and think about it for a moment," Burges points out. "All of our government is concentrated within several miles of each other. And so, God forbid, something happened, we could take out all of government."

Her legislation would require the governor to designate someone in that line of succession to be absent at special events. The idea has precedent at the federal level, where the line of succession after the vice president, speaker of the house and president pro-tem of the senate runs through the cabinet. And the president routinely designates one cabinet officer to be away.

The legislation would do more than mandate the designated state official be absent. It would require that he or she be at least 35 miles from wherever the event was occurring, under protection of the state Department of Public Safety. The measure is now awaiting action by the full Senate.