State Government Committee Report – Week 15, 2018

SJR 2006 – Amends Iowa Constitution to outline line of gubernatorial succession



SJR 2006 proposes an amendment to the Iowa Constitution to outline the line of succession if a governor of Iowa is no longer able to serve. It specifies that the lieutenant governor has the powers of the governor when he or she assumes the office of governor. In the case of a permanent disability, death, resignation or removal from office, the lieutenant governor must assume the office of the governor. The former lieutenant governor will appoint a new lieutenant governor, who will have the same powers and duties as one who was elected, including the duty to act as governor, or to assume the office of governor and appoint a new lieutenant governor. The resolution must pass both legislative chambers this session and be referred to the 88th General Assembly for adoption before being submitted to the Iowa voters for ratification.

The House passed a strike-all amendment that is very similar to Senate version, but rewords some language. The House amendment is more explicit about the line of succession under Section 17 of Article IV. With the House amendment, these changes will be made to the Iowa Constitution:

  • The governor can fill a vacancy of lieutenant governor by appointment for the rest of the term. The lieutenant governor can become governor in case of death, impeachment, resignation, removal from office or any other reason that the governor is unable to serve. If both the governor and lieutenant governor are simultaneously unable to serve, the line of succession is as follows:
    • President of the Senate
    • Speaker of the House
    • President Pro Tempore of the Senate
    • Speaker Pro Tempore of the House


  • If none in the line of succession are able or willing to serve and the legislature is not in session the Iowa Supreme Court will convene the legislature, and a president of the Senate and speaker of the House will be elected. Once selected, the president-elect of the senate will become governor. If unable to serve, the speaker-elect of the house becomes governor.

This legislation is a result of an Attorney General’s opinion, which determined  that, in the Iowa Constitution, the powers of the governor devolved to the former lieutenant governor, and now-Governor Kim Reynolds could not appoint a new lieutenant governor. The Attorney General’s opinion was that Reynolds is holding the office of governor and lieutenant governor at the same time, and that there is no vacancy. After being sworn in as governor, Reynolds appointed Adam Gregg to serve as acting lieutenant governor. Acting Lt. Governor Gregg performs the function of the office and receives the salary but is not in the actual line of succession, should Governor Reynolds become unable to serve. The next in line of succession is currently the President of the Iowa Senate.
[4/17: 35-11 (No: Bolkcom, Boulton, Bowman, Dotzler, Dvorsky, Hogg, Horn, Jochum, D. Johnson, Mathis, McCoy; Excused: Bertrand, Feenstra, Petersen, Zumbach)]