The Indiana State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the Nov. 2024 ballot that would remove the superintendent of public instruction from the gubernatorial line of succession.
The elected position was abolished in 2021 and replaced by the secretary of education, a position appointed by the governor.
Currently, in Indiana, if the governor becomes incapacitated, then the lieutenant governor of Indiana becomes acting governor until his or her recovery. If the governor resigns, dies, or is impeached, tried, and convicted, then the lieutenant governor becomes governor. If the governor and lieutenant governor both vacate their offices, the state legislature must meet within 48 hours and elect an acting governor, who must belong to the same party as the previous governor, by a simple majority in each chamber. Until then, the acting governor and acting lieutenant governor shall be, in order of succession:
1: the President Pro Tem of the Senate;
2: the Speaker of the House of Representatives;
3: the State Treasurer;
4: the State Auditor;
5: the Secretary of State; and
6: the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Sen. Jeff Raatz (R), who sponsored the amendment in the state Senate, said, “The superintendent of public instruction is sixth in line to take over as the governor of Indiana if the elected governor and lieutenant governor vacate their roles; however, this position was added to the line of succession when it was an elected position. Now, [the] secretary of education is a governor-appointed position. Because it is no longer an elected position, I believe it is wise to remove the position from the line of succession to make sure that only an elected official can become governor.”
To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a simple majority vote is required in both the Indiana State Senate and the Indiana House of Representatives in two successive legislative sessions.
The constitutional amendment was first introduced in the 2022 legislative session as House Joint Resolution 3. It was passed in the House by a vote of 87-6 and in the Senate by a vote of 46-1.
The amendment was passed again during the 2023 legislative session as House Joint Resolution 1. It was passed in the House on Jan. 31, 2023, in a vote of 99-0 and in the Senate on March 16, 2023, in a vote of 47-0 with three members absent.
Since 1996, the Indiana State Legislature has referred twelve constitutional amendments to the statewide ballot, all of which were approved by voters. The measures appeared on the ballot in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2010, 2016, and, most recently, in 2018.