W.Va. Lt. Gov proposal clears committee hurdle

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia would elect a lieutenant governor under a proposal advancing in the House of Delegates.

The House committee that reviews such constitutional amendments endorsed the measure Wednesday.

Lawmakers began studying changes to the vacancy process when then-Gov. Joe Manchin resigned after winning election to the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Then-Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin succeeded Manchin. But the state Supreme Court later ruled that West Virginia's constitution only allowed Tomblin to act as governor. The ruling mandated a special election, which Tomblin won.

Wednesday's party-line vote came after Republicans unsuccessfully offered an alternative. They proposed tweaking the constitution so the Senate president wouldn't just be acting as governor when there's a vacancy.

The measure advances to House Judiciary. State voters would have to approve this proposed constitutional change.

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