Dayton Daily News
Early bipartisan maneuvering at statehouse
The House also tweaked its rules. Among other features, the new rules require that House Democrats co-chair each of three House subcommittees – on criminal sentencing; primary and secondary education; and energy generation.
No one considers the Ohio House of Representatives a good-government group. But the Republican-run House made operational moves last week, orchestrated by Republican Speaker Larry Householder, of Perry County’s Glenford, in the direction of bipartisanship – a stark contrast to presidential and congressional chaos in Washington.
A Miami Valley facet of last week’s House votes: The election of Rep. Jim Butler, of Oakwood, as the House’s No. 2 Republican – speaker pro tempore.
Ohio House Democrats formally chose a new leader, Rep. Emilia Sykes, of Akron. She replaces Rep. Fred Strahorn, of Dayton. Sykes’ team includes Reps. Krtis
tin Boggs, of Columbus; Kent Smith, of Euclid; and Paula Hicks-Hudson, Toledo’s former mayor.
Last week’s House moves suggests Householder, a crafty politico – who supported, be it noted, Donald Trump, not John Kasich, for president – may think Washington-style confrontational politics are becoming a losing proposition. And forward thinking matters, because, all else equal, Householder is eligible to be re-elected speaker in 2021 and 2023.
In January, in a 52-46 vote, Householder, speaker from 2001 through 2004, made a comeback by defeating fellow Republican Rep. Ryan Smith, of Gallia County’s Bidwell, who was seeking re-election as speaker. Republicans have a
61-38 House majority. Householder won with 26 Republican votes (of the 60 Republicans then in the House) and 26 votes from Democrats. Unions wanted Democrats to back Householder.
In December, Smith and his allies slated their proposed team of 201920 House officers. For example, Rep. Rick Carfagna, a suburban Columbus Republican, was the Smith team’s choice for speaker pro tempore – the job Householder ally Butler landed instead.
Besides Carfagna, three other Smith allies slated for House Republicans’ inner circle found themselves on the outs Thursday: Reps. Sarah LaTourette and Thomas Patton, both Cleveland suburbanites, and Bill Reineke, of Tiffin. Replacing them, respectively, are House
Republicans who voted for Householder: Reps. Anthony DeVitis, of suburban Akron; Jay Edwards, of Nelsonville; and Laura Lanese, of suburban Columbus.
Rep. William J. Seitz, a suburban Cincinnati Republican, slated by Smith’s team to become House majority floor leader, voted for Smith, not Householder, on Jan. 7. Still, the House elected Seitz majority floor leader last week. That couldn’t have happened without Householder’s OK. Maybe Householder thinks Seitz, a Statehouse ally of the American Legislative Exchange Council, can be more easily be managed inside Householder’s tent than outside it.
The House also tweaked its rules. Among other features, the new rules, crafted by a committee chaired by Rep. Jamie Callender, a suburban Cleve
land Republican, require that House Democrats co-chair each of three House subcommittees – on criminal sentencing; primary and secondary education; and energy generation (in plain English, electricity prices). Having Democrats chair a Republican House’s subcommittees has to be a new departure for Ohio.
The rules also abolish the House’s Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. Noto
riously, it sat on a payday loan reform bill for 13
months in 2017 and 2018 despite statewide pleas for the measure’s passage. (The payday loan reform, House Bill 123, was sponsored by Reps. Kyle Koehler, a Springfield Republican, and Michael Ashford, a Toledo Democrat. On July 30, Kasich signed it into law.)
True, it’s easy for sweetness and light to waft through the Ohio House before it starts debating the 2019-21 state budget Republican Gov. Mike
DeWine will propose. And the certain re-introduction of a “heartbeat” abortion ban won’t win the backing of pro-Roe vs. Wade legislators. But on some level, the Ohio House’s Republicans are going to have to take Ohio House Democrats into account. And given the partisan Statehouse antics of the recent past, that’s huge.