Senate Bill Provides Governor Authority To Fill Lieutenant Governor Vacancy

June 15, 2010

Governor has authority to nominate replacement,
confirmation of Legislature required

The New York State Senate has passed legislation (S7682/Breslin) which provides authority for a Governor to fill the role of the Lieutenant Governor in the event of a vacancy; a Governor’s appointment must be confirmed by the Legislature.
The Majority’s legislation, which is a constitutional amendment, also updates the ways in which power is transferred between the governor and the Lieutenant Governor, to avoid any constitutional crisis in the event a future Governor resigns or becomes incapacitated.
The bill passed 59 to 2.
Senator Neil Breslin (D-Albany) said, “Though the Courts have ruled the Executive obtains the authority to appointment a Lieutenant Governor in the event of vacancy, this brings much-needed clarity to prevent any crisis in the event of future vacancies. Our bill provides the Governor with powers of appointment while the Legislature plays the classic role of advise and consent. I believe these updates are a fair, clear-headed approach to dealing with matters of the highest importance to effective governance of New York.”
The measure would modernize the New York Constitution regarding the office of the lieutenant-governor.  The prior law allowed for the governor to fill the vacancy by executive appointment, without the need for legislative confirmation.  This new measure is modeled after the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, declaring that:

  • The governor’s selection must receive bicameral confirmation;
  • eliminates the State Constitutional provision that makes the lieutenant-governor acting governor if the governor leaves the state;
  • allows the governor to cede powers to the lieutenant governor by executive letter in cases of temporary incapacity;
  • allows for temporary succession by joint declaration, in the event that the governor is incapacitated but has not transmitted power by executive letter.

Democratic Conference Leader John L. Sampson said, “This approach clears up any confusion over the authority and position of the governor, and ensures stability and certainty for our state’s highest office in the midst of critical moments that need a sure hand. Though a vacancy seldom occurs, at those times the public deserves full confidence in the process. Senator Breslin has worked tirelessly on this matter, and I applaud him for passing what is a very significant legislation relating to the powers of the Executive.”
For more information about this legislation visit