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The Ohio House

All members of the House must be U.S. citizens and reside in the districts from which they are elected. A new legislative session is assembled every two years on the first Monday in January of the odd-numbered years. However, since there is no limit on the days the General Assembly may convene, it can respond immediately to emergency situations. While in session, the House generally meets Tuesday through Thursday. Committee meetings may be held any time before or after floor sessions. Both are open to the public.

House Facts

  • Members of the House must be U.S. Citizens.
  • Members are required by the state constitution to reside in their respective districts for at least one year before being eligible to be elected that district's legislator.
  • Members may not hold another state, federal or local public office while serving in the House.
  • Members have a variety of backgrounds. There are dentists, teachers, farmers, business persons, lawyers and retailers.
  • The first Speaker of the Ohio House was Michael Baldwin.
  • The first year women served in the Ohio House was 1923-24. The four women members were Mrs. Nettie Clapp, Mrs. Lu Lu Gleason, Mrs. C.J. Ott & Mrs. May Van Wye.
  • The first African American to serve in the Ohio House was George W. Williams, 1879-1881.
  • The first woman to serve 11 consecutive terms - Ethel Swanbeck, 1955-1976.
  • The first African American woman to serve in the Ohio House - Helen Rankin, 1978-1994.
  • The first woman Speaker of the Ohio House - Jo Ann Davidson, 1995- 2000.
  • The longest serving speaker in Ohio House History - Vern Riffe, 1975-1994.

The Role of a Representative

In the Ohio General Assembly, each citizen is represented by a state representative and a state senator. The state is divided into 99 House districts and 33 Senate districts. State representatives listen to the concerns of their constituents and speak for them. They develop solutions to the needs of their districts through legislative action. State representatives work together, balancing the best interests of each state district.

House members attend many meetings of their local, civic, religious and business groups. Through these contacts and suggestions from individual citizens, state representatives gauge public opinion and develop proposals for changes in the state law. These proposals are prepared in the form of a bill and are then formally considered by the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Governor before becoming law.

Each state representative is assigned to several standing committees which meet weekly while the House is in session to closely review each bill. In committee meetings, they hear testimony from individuals interested in specific legislative issues. Often members are assigned to special committees or boards that investigate items of pressing concern, or they regularly review actions of state agencies. When a committee recommends a bill for passage and the Rules and Reference Committee schedules it for consideration, the bill then comes before the House for a vote. During the floor session, representatives debate the merits of the proposal. After the debate is closed, it is the duty of each member to cast a vote in favor of or against the bill.

Of equal importance to their legislative roles, each state representative also acts as a liaison between groups and individuals in their districts and state and federal agencies. This interaction empowers constituents by providing the personal assistance necessary to receive important services or benefits from the state departments and commissions.