A bid to let voters decide whether the governor and lieutenant governor should be elected jointly was rejected Wednesday by the Louisiana House.

The vote was 36-64.

The legislation required two-thirds approval, or 70 votes.

The measure, House Bill 113, was touted by sponsor Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans, as a way for the two officeholders to work better together.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is a Democrat and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser is a Republican.

"There is no reason to suggest that the current governor and lieutenant governor cannot work together," Leger told the House. "They have."

"It just seems to be that there is always some level of political stress that exists between the two," he said of governors and lieutenant governors.

"It seems like it would be a good thing to have a governor who could send a lieutenant governor out as a deputy without fear of some political backstabbing," Leger said.

Under current rules the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately for four-year terms.

The lieutenant governor is first in line if the governor is unable to perform his duties.

He or she oversee the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, which includes historic preservation and state museums.

Leger's plan envisioned the Legislature later spelling out details of the overhaul if voters endorsed his proposal, which is a constitutional amendment.

One option would be for the governor to appoint an official to head the agency now overseen by the lieutenant governor.

Leger noted that the president and vice-president are elected jointly.

The legislation sparked a wide range of questions but little substantive debate on the merits.

Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, questioned whether the move would draw Louisiana closer to Washington D. C.-style politics that Edwards and others often say they want to avoid.

A bid to let voters decide if they want to eliminate the office of lieutenant governor was proposed and then dropped before the final vote.

Rep. Blake Miguez, R-Erath, initially said he was having an amendment prepared that would put the job on the ballot.

"We want to make government smaller," Miguez said. "I say we eliminate the position."

Moments later he dropped the effort.

Leger said 45 states have lieutenant governors and 26 have the governor and lieutenant governor run jointly.

The Democrat, who is serving his final year in the state House, said he considered the proposal years ago and thought it was worth discussing before he leaves.

"Ultimately we are just asking the voters if they think it is a good idea or not," he said


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