Governor of Indiana - Office - Authority

Authority

The governor's powers are established in Article V of the Constitution of Indiana. Constitutionally, the governor has very limited executive authority to manage the government of the state; most exercisable powers over state agencies are held by independent elected cabinet heads.

The governor works in concert with the state legislature (the bicameral Indiana General Assembly, consisting of the Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Senate) and the state supreme court (the Supreme Court of Indiana) to govern the state. The governor has the power to veto legislation passed by the General Assembly. If vetoed, a bill is returned to the General Assembly for reconsideration. Unlike other states, most of which require a two-thirds supermajority to override a veto, the Indiana General Assembly may override the veto with only a simple majority vote in both chambers.

One of the governor's most important political powers is the ability to call a special session of the General Assembly. During a two-year period, the assembly can meet on its own for no more than 91 days, and this often prevents them from passing all the legislation they intend to. This can give the governor considerable influence in the body which will often compromise on issues with him in exchange for a special legislative session.

Among his other powers, the governor can call out the state defense force (the Indiana Guard Reserve) or the Indiana National Guard in times of emergency or disaster. The governor is also charged with the enforcement of all the state's laws and the Indiana Code through the Indiana State Police. The governor also has the ability to grant a pardon or commutation of sentence of any person convicted of a crime in the state, except in cases of treason or impeachment.

In addition to constitutional powers, governors also have a considerable degree of statutory authority. Most of the authority exercised by governors on a daily basis is derived from statute, giving the General Assembly a great degree of power to expand or contract the governor's authority. Historically, the party in control of the General Assembly would reassign control of agencies from the governor or to the governor based his party affiliation, and the party affiliation of the cabinet heads, which at times has left the governor with no direct control over state agencies.

The governor also can influence the state court system through the appointment of judges. In Indiana, when vacancies occur on the Supreme Court, Tax Court, and circuit courts, the Judicial Nominating Commission interviews candidates and sends a list of three candidates for each vacancy to the governor, who chooses one. Justices of the peace and superior courts judges are elected in Indiana; if a vacancy occurs (such as by death or resignation) the governor may make an appointment, who holds the office until the next general election. The authority to make such appointments gives the governor considerable sway in setting the makeup of the judiciary.

The annual salary of the governor of Indiana is US$95,000. Additionally, he receives $6,000 annually for discretionary spending and expenses.

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