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Ohio House Leader Proposes Two Ways To Resolve Speakership Impasse

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Ohio Public Radio
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Ohio House members will be called back to Columbus next week to resolve the Speakership fight one way or another. 

Republican Speaker Pro Tem Kirk Schuring Tuesday presented lawmakers with two options for resolving the impasse that's brought sessions to a halt. Schuring is giving lawmakers the option to vote on two candidates: Ryan Smith and Andy Thompson. Lawmakers may also vote to change the rules so Schuring can stay in charge for the remainder of the year. Schuring has given Republican and Democratic lawmakers until Friday to tell him which option they wish to pursue.  But some Republicans want a vote immediately. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports. 

Eleven Republicans who back Representative Ryan Smith to take over for former Speaker Cliff Rosenberger through the end of this year say it’s time to take a vote NOW. Representative Craig Reidel says Smith was just three votes shy of getting the 50 needed in the caucus to be elected speaker under the current rules.

“So he has the vast, vast support of the majority of the House Republican party. What I’m here to say today and I know my peers and friends behind me are in agreement, I’m asking the small group of people who have yet to get behind Ryan for the interim speaker to reconsider and get behind Ryan so we can get back to work as the House of Representatives because that is what we are here to do.”

 

Reidel and the other representatives who delivered this message to reporters would not answer questions. And since that press conference, new ones came up about the possible scenarios that could be happening to resolve the speaker fight.  One plan Schuring is floating calls for a vote from the full House, including Democrats, to elect a new speaker using the current rules. Plan B calls for a session to vote on changing the rules to allow Schuring, as speaker Pro Tem, to remain in charge through the end of this year, allowing him to oversee legislation that’s on deck. That’s a plan some members appear to be leaning toward, including former Speaker Larry Householder, who wants to be speaker next year, and is not in the contest to be short term speaker. Householder reportedly talked with Schuring and Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken about that option over the weekend. Represenative Kyle Koehler is clear about his choice.

 

“I’m concerned that somehow we are going settle on an interim speaker or no speaker at all. I do not want legislation that we are going to pass in the next seven months to have an asterisk next to it. It needs to be just as valid as the laws we passed a year ago and the laws we will pass a year from now. I’m calling on Speaker Pro Tem to call for a vote. I want to vote so we can get back to business.”

 

But Schuring isn’t ready to call for either option yet - he’s asking both Republican and Democratic members to inform him of their choices by the end of the day Friday. 

 

“Well I think the whole thing is ridiculous.”

 

That’s Democratic Representative David Leland. He says it’s up to Republicans to solve this problem.

 

“They are in charge. They have almost 2/3 of the vote in the house. They are the ones who are making the rules. They are the ones who are breaking the rules. They are the ones who have got us into this mess.”

 

Leland says he’s talking with other members of his caucus to try to figure out where they stand on the latest offers from Schuring. But Leland says he wants to make sure any solution would not sweep any possible wrongdoing by Rosenberger under the rug. Rosenberger resigned in April after saying he had hired an attorney because the FBI was interested in his activities involving  lobbyists. Rosenberger has said he didn’t do anything illegal or unethical. 

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