By Chris Micheli
Most of the powers of the executive branch of California government are found in Article Five of the state Constitution. The following is a description of those constitutional provisions affecting the Governor and his or her administration.
Section 1 vests the executive power in the Governor who is required to faithfully execute the law.
Section 2 provides that the Governor is elected every four years at the same time that Assembly members are and that he or she holds office beginning the Monday after January 1. The Governor must be a United States citizen and a resident of California for the past five years. The term of office is capped at two.
Section 3 requires the Governor to report to the Legislature each year on the condition of the State, usually referred to as the “State of the State” speech.
Section 4 provides the Governor can require officers and agencies to furnish information related to their duties.
Section 5 allows the Governor to fill a vacancy in office by appointment. This applies to other constitutional officers. That individual is confirmed by a majority vote of both the Assembly and Senate. That person shall complete the term of office for which he or she was appointed. If the person is not confirmed or refused confirmation by both houses within 90 days, then the individual takes office.
Section 6 authorizes a statute to allow the Governor to reorganize functions among state agencies other than the remaining constitutional offices (which are known as “Governor’s Reorganization Plans – GRPs”).
Section 7 provides that the Governor is the commander in chief of the militia and may call upon it to execute the laws of the state.
Section 8 provides the Governor authority to grant a reprieve, pardon and commutation, except for cases of impeachment. The Governor must report to the Legislature any grants and providing the facts and reasons for doing so. No pardons for persons twice convicted of a felony, unless the Supreme Court recommends it. The Governor may review decisions of the parole authority within 30 days of their recommendation. He or she may affirm, modify or reverse the decision based upon the same factors which the parole authority is required to consider. The Governor must report to the Legislature each parole decision he or she acts upon.
Section 9 requires the Lieutenant Governor to have the same qualifications as the Governor. The Lieutenant Governor is the President of the Senate, but may only cast a vote on a tie.
Section 10 provides the Lieutenant Governor will become Governor when a vacancy occurs. He or she shall act as Governor during an impeachment, when the Governor is out of state, or the Governor has a temporary disability. There is an order of precedence for succession to the Governor’s office or temporarily exercising the Governor’s functions. The Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction under this section to address any questions.
Section 11 provides that the Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Controller, Secretary of State, and Treasurer are elected at the same time as the Governor and are limited to 2 terms in office.
Section 13 provides that the Attorney General is the chief law officer of the state and it is his or her duty to uniformly and adequately enforce the laws of the state. The Attorney General has direct supervision over every district attorney and sheriff in the state related to the duties of their offices and may require them to make reports on crimes. If the Attorney General opines that a law is not being adequately enforced in any county, it is the duty of the Attorney General to prosecute any violations of law in place of a district attorney.
Section 14 provides that no state officer shall knowingly receive any salary, wages, commissions, or other earned income from a lobbyist or a lobbying firm. If any is received, then the state officer cannot make or participate in making for one year any action that would have a direct and significant financial impact on the lobbyist employer and would not impact the public generally. No state officer may accept any honorarium. The Legislature is required to enact laws that ban or strictly limit accepting a gift that would create a conflict of interest. No state officer may knowingly accept any compensation for appearing before or taking any action on behalf of another person before a state government board or agency. If any is received, then the state officer cannot make or participate in making for one year any action that would have a direct and significant financial impact on the person and would not impact the public generally. The Legislature is required to enact laws that prohibit state officers, agency secretaries and department directors from lobbying the executive branch for 12 months after leaving office.
Capitol observers should be familiar with the provisions of Article Five in order to understand the powers and duties, as well as the limitations on powers, of the executive branch. Thereafter, review of relevant provisions of the Government Code should be consulted to determine further laws affecting the Governor and his or her administration.
Chris Micheli is an attorney and registered lobbyist with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc. He serves as an Adjunct Professor at McGeorge School of Law.