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Summary of Resolution: Currently, the Texas constitution requires that when the governor leaves the state of Texas, the responsibilities of the office of the governor devolve to the next in line of succession. This resolution proposes an amendment to the Texas Constitution which would allow the governor and lieutenant governor to retain executive authority "unless unavailable as provided by law". The legislature would then enumerate the conditions in which the governor (or lieutenant governor when serving as acting governor) is "unavailable" to discharge the duties of office. HB 829, a companion to this resolution, would allow the Governor or a "person authorized to act as the governor" to retain executive authority while traveling out of state within the boundaries contiguous 48 states for a period of up to seven days.
Recommendation: This resolution provides for the possibility, contingent on enactment of enabling legislation, for the governor to retain executive authority while traveling out of state under certain circumstances. State governors routinely travel out of state for a variety of reasons, including official state business. Under current law the public may not know who holds executive authority if they don't know when the governor is traveling out of state. This resolution would bring clarity to the process of executive succession, increase government transparency, and bring the office of the governor more in line with modern technology by allowing the governor to discharge the duties of office while traveling in the contiguous 48 states for a limited period of time. Because this legislation will strengthen the process of executive succession in the event of an emergency, and provide more flexibility for the governor to retain executive authority when traveling outside of Texas, we encourage legislators to support HJR 71.