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Gov. Susana Martinez is fond of crossing into El Paso frequently for a few hours to visit family, and this has brought some public attention to the “traveling governor” provision of New Mexico’s Constitution.
A sentence in Article 5, Section 7, says: “In case the governor is absent from the state, or is for any reason unable to perform his duties, the lieutenant governor shall act as governor, with all the powers, duties and emoluments of that office until such disability be removed.”
Maybe, some folks are saying, this horse-and-buggy provision is obsolete in the era of instant communication.
It should not be necessary to transfer the reins of government if the governor crosses the state line for a couple of hours, as no emergency is likely to arise to which she could not respond (faster, maybe, if she had kept that jet airplane, but that’s for another day).
Maybe it should not even be necessary if the governor leaves the state for a longer period, since the tools of instant communication work almost everywhere, except maybe North Korea. Hmm.
And we’d save the bonus that the lieutenant governor is paid for those days of service.
But perhaps we should not be so hasty to change this provision, for one reason:
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