After nearly two months of a Republican-led legislative impasse, the Ohio House is expected to resume legislative activity following today’s narrow, marathon election of new House Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell). Chaos and dysfunction have plagued the legislature since the abrupt resignation of former Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville), after he announced he was under FBI inquiry in April. Federal agents have since raided Rosenberger’s home, his state office and storage shed, as rumors of pay-to-play tactics on payday lending reform legislation continue to churn.
“After almost two months of legislative gridlock that prevented us from passing meaningful bills to create jobs and improve people’s lives, it is important that we are now able to move forward with the People’s work,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “I am hopeful that the chaos and dysfunction that has plagued this institution will fade, but the hard truth is there is still a cloud of uncertainty cast upon our work as alleged corruption and wrongdoing continues to be investigated. I congratulate the new speaker and implore him to put divisive political bills aside so that we may all recommit ourselves to truly working in a bipartisan way to bring needed and meaningful change to our great state.”
Republican gridlock continued onto the House floor as the legislature held 11 rounds of voting to elect Smith, who becomes the first speaker in modern history to assume control of the Ohio House without securing a majority of votes. In a narrow vote, Smith was awarded the speakership under Ohio law with only 44 votes.
“While I am happy that we can focus on the people’s work after nearly two months of inaction and dysfunction, many questions remain unanswered,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Nicholas J. Celebrezze (D-Parma). “The public’s trust and the integrity of this institution have been called into question as news of favor trading and FBI probes continue to dominate the news. So, more than ever before, now is the time to come together to set aside politics and special-interests to prioritize the issues that matter to families, entrepreneurs and hardworking Ohioans across our state—issues like healthcare, college affordability and raising wages.”
Celebrezze nominated Strahorn for House speaker by asking his Republican colleagues to “cross political party lines to usher in a new leader…under a renewed oath and commitment to upholding the integrity and good work” of the House. Ultimately, Republicans towed the political party line for a new Republican speaker.
“We are pleased we can refocus on what we were sent here to do, but – to protect the taxpayers’ trust and the integrity of the work we do on their behalf – we cannot lose sight of the chaos and dysfunction that brought us to this point,” Democratic Whip Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “Today’s vote should be a clarion call to set politics and special-interest favor trading aside to prioritize kitchen table economic issues that matter to Ohio’s families.”
Over 100 bills have piled up for a final floor vote during the House Republican impasse.
“Today, the 55th day of the House Republican shutdown, we can once again focus on what voters sent us here to do,” said Assistant Democratic Whip Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati). “It is my hope now, that after trying it their way, we can try a new way—one that puts politics aside and encourages us to work together to make a positive difference in the lives of everyday Ohioans. We owe it to the voters, those who entrust us each day to do the right thing, to enact laws that encourage people to open a business, pursue an education and get the care they need to get back on their feet. Ohio taxpayers deserve more; they deserve an end to the chaos and corruption that puts politics over people.”
Here is what other House Democratic lawmakers are saying about today’s historic vote:
“After 11 rounds of voting Smith’s unremarkable ascendancy proves only one thing. The dark cloud of Republican scandal and FBI investigation still hangs heavy over the Ohio House,” said Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus).
“Today, I proudly casted my vote for Minority Leader Fred Strahorn for the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives. He is a proven leader of integrity who truly cares about working for all Ohioans. For almost two months, the Republican majority has demonstrated a lack of leadership and an inability to work together to elect a Speaker. I congratulate Speaker Smith, and I look forward to work to restore the faith of the people in this institution and continue to do the important work for the people of Ohio,” said Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood).
“Republicans could not have expected that Democrats would affirm their nominees for Speaker of the House. When I invite people over to my house, I invite them over for refreshments- sandwiches, tea, coffee, a glass of wine. I invite them over for quality conversation and meaningful relationship-building. I don’t invite them over to help me clean my house, that would be tacky,” said Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights). Especially when they have more people in their house than we have in ours- they can clean their own house. They have not exactly been pleasant hosts, offering little to no compromise and dialogue on issues important to us. We are wary of the ongoing FBI investigation. I hope now we can finally have more open conversations about issues facing our state without scandal, chaos and controversy.”
“After a state government shutdown of 55 days, the House GOP still couldn’t agree on a new Speaker, which forced us to take 11 separate votes to determine who will hold the gavel for the final six months of this terms,” said Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid). “I voted for Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn each of the eleven times because I believe the 8th House District and the rest of Ohio want the dirty campaigns and the pay-to-play politics to stop. Ohio’s middle class keeps falling further and further behind as a result of one party rule for 24 out of the last 28 years. This 55 day government shutdown is just the latest evidence that Ohio needs a major change in direction.”
“Despite having drawn rigged district lines to create a 65 seat supermajority in a 50-50 state, it took 11 rounds of voting to elect Speaker Ryan Smith today. I’m proud to have cast my vote all 11 times for Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn because I believe he has the values to work on improving access to healthcare, providing our children with a top-notch education, protecting our environment and actually making higher education affordable.
“Ohioans have real problems that require real solutions. The majority Republican caucus has proven again today that they don’t deal in solutions, only dysfunction. We need to do better for the people’s sake.”— State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain).
“Today’s long-delayed vote for speaker is merely a symptom of the chaos and alleged corruption that is gripping the Statehouse and Republican officeholders. Now, we have two paths before us: we can continue with business as usual – the same approach that brought us to this point – or we can cast aside divisive politics and political favors to focus on bills that grow our economy, create jobs and improve people’s lives. Ohioans deserve our collective focus to improve their lives and I hope the new Republican leadership chooses to join Democrats in making this improvement a reality.”— State Rep. Stephanie Howse (D- Cleveland).
“The election of a new speaker means the legislature can get back to work,” said state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo). “There are many pressing issues on the hearts and minds of Ohioans which deserve our dedication and time and I’m eager to continue passing legislation that will make a difference.”
“I am ready to get to work passing meaningful legislation for our district and the state of Ohio,” said state Rep. Glenn Holmes (D-Girard). “There were enough votes in the majority party to elect a speaker on the first round. Eleven rounds of voting only proves that a different direction needs to happen for Ohio to move forward.”