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Why Won’t The House Pro Tem Just Take The Vote?

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Statehouse News Bureau
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This week marked the second in a row without a voting session in the Ohio House. All sessions were canceled because majority Republicans cannot decide on a leader to replace former House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger. The Republican resigned in April and is embroiled in an FBI investigation involving his associations with payday lending lobbyists. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports.

 

 At issue is picking a speaker to serve till the end of the year. And when House Republicans voted last week, Finance Committee Chair Ryan Smith came up a few votes short of the 50 that acting Speaker Kirk Schuring said was needed to take a nominee to the floor. Another representative, Andy Thompson, has the backing of former House Speaker Larry Householder, and has pulled votes from a few representatives who said they wouldn’t support Smith. Since that time, sessions have been canceled while Republicans fight this out behind closed doors. And meanwhile, Thompson says members are confused.

It caught everybody off guard. I was in finance committee, looking around, saying ‘does anybody know what’s going on?’ So in some cases this has been a top down leadership style that we have seen in the Ohio House and that doesn’t instill confidence either.”

Smith is frustrated too, saying he’s ready to go to the full House.

I want to take the vote. Frankly, it’s time to take this vote. The people of Ohio deserve us to get on with our business and I believe I have the votes to be successful in this. One more thing. If the person who has the most to risk wants to take the vote, then why wouldn’t we take the vote?”

I tried to ask Schuring that question but was told, in an email, that he wasn’t available for an interview. But some veterans of Capitol Square have their own answers to the question of why House sessions are being canceled in favor of not taking a vote for a new speaker. Democratic Representative and former Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Leland says he suspects this is a fight over who will wield financial power in November’s election.

All of this discussion is merely over who controls the $4 million that’s in the House Republican Party campaign account.”

Former Ohio Republican Party Kevin DeWine says if his party wants to keep its majority in the House, leaders there had better make a decision on the speaker situation soon. And the person the caucus decides to back had better focus on unity.

These things leave scars and marks on people for a long, long time and as someone who came from the house and I did my eight years in the house, I’m sorry to see the caucus that I worked for, supported and was able to benefit from for so long going through this tough time.”

House committees are still meeting and in some cases approving bills that will have to be voted on by the full House. Meanwhile, the Senate continues to vote on legislation but much of it is stalled if it needs House approval. 

The Statehouse News Bureau was founded in 1980 to provide educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations. To this day, the Bureau remains the only broadcast outlet dedicated to in-depth coverage of state government news and topics of statewide interest. The Bureau is funded througheTech Ohio, and is managed by ideastream. The reporters at the Bureau follow the concerns of the citizens and voters of Ohio, as well as the actions of the Governor, the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Supreme Court, and other elected officials. We strive to cover statehouse news, government issues, Ohio politics, and concerns of business, culture and the arts with balance and fairness, and work to present diverse voices and points of view from the Statehouse and throughout Ohio. The three award-winning journalists at the bureau have more than 60 combined years of radio and television experience. They can be heard on National Public Radio and are regular contributors to Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace. Every weekday, the Statehouse News Bureau produces in-depth news reports forOhio's public radio stations. Those stories are also available on this website, either on the front page or in our archives. Weekly, the Statehouse News Bureau produces a television show from our studios in the Statehouse. The State of Ohio is an unique blend of news, interviews, talk and analysis, and is broadcast on Ohio's public television stations. The Statehouse News Bureau also produces special programming throughout the year, including the Governor's annual State of the State address to the Ohio General Assembly and a five-part year-end review.
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