Capitol & State

Who’s in charge here? In Idaho this week, you have to look around

Who’s minding the state?

Every once in a while, you have to ask around.

Consider: Gov. Butch Otter is overseas through this week. Lt. Gov. Brad Little is in Washington, returning Tuesday. In the case where the No. 1 and 2 officers are out of state, Idaho’s Constitution (Article IV, Sec. 12-14) provides for the powers of the governor to devolve, after the lieutenant governor, to the Senate President Pro Tempore, then to the Speaker of the House.

After that, though, the line of succession is not spelled out.

Betsy Russell of The Spokesman-Review went hunting for an acting governor Monday, eventually reaching Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill of Rexburg, who confirmed he was acting governor until Little returns.

Hill’s done it before, most recently in January, when for the first time he served as acting governor during a legislative session. That meant assigning his Senate leadership duties to another senator and staying off the Senate floor.

He told Russell that he had been texting with the governor’s chief of staff, David Hensley.

“It’s really quite a formal process,” Hill said. “It’s very formal and we honor it very carefully.”

In January, Hill said the stand-in post “usually doesn’t amount to much, but sometimes they have people that need to talk to the governor about something, and so they’ll get on a conference call with me.”

If a decision from a governor —any governor—is required, Hill reaches out to the real governor.

“I’m going to do what he wants,” he said.

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @DentzerNews