The California Constitution gives the lieutenant governor authority to take over as acting governor when the governor leaves the state. That made sense in 1849, the year the constitution was written. There were no jet planes back then, or satellites or even telephones. It doesn't make sense now.
Fair Oaks senator Dave Cox has introduced a constitutional amendment that would allow the governor to retain his powers even when he leaves the state. It's a fix that is long over due.
No governor who travels out of state should have to worry that his lieutenant governor will make mischief in his absence. That is a particular concern in California where the governor and the lieutenant governor run for office independently and are frequently from different parties. Like now.
Current Lt Gov. Cruz Bustamante, a Democrat, hasn't done anything wrong during Republican Schwarzennegger's frequent out of state trips, but the risk is there. Former Lt. Gov. Mike Curb famously appointed a judge when former governor Jerry brown was out of state.
Frankly it would be better if the governor and lieutenant governor ran as a team, as the president and vice president do on a national level. Cox's measure doesn't go that far, still, it's an improvement over the current state of affairs.
Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.