Dayton Daily News

Early bipartisan maneuverin­g at statehouse

- Thomas Suddes Thomas Suddes is an adjunct assistant professor at Ohio University. Send email to

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.

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