House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) issued a statement as House Republican leaders pushed a House floor vote on House rules that would stifle the voices of Ohioans in committee hearings and on the House floor. Democrats say the changes silence legitimate concerns of millions of Ohioans.
“Barring virtual testimony, refusing to require masks and stifling opposing voices is antithetical to our role as the People’s House. The Speaker is making it harder and less safe for Ohioans to participate in their democracy and have their voices heard. These rules show that the entrenched majority cares more about exerting their power than fostering a government of, by and for the people of Ohio. We work for you, the taxpayers, and that begins by welcoming robust debate and affording the opportunity for every Ohioan to have input in the legislative process. It’s a shame the Speaker and Republican majority chose to silence not only our constituents but theirs.”
Republicans refused to include mask mandates for members and visitors in the updated House rules, a health and safety concern Democrats raised several times during the 133rd General Assembly. In addition Republicans refused to allow virtual testimony for citizens to safely participate in the committee process.
Democrats offered several measures on the House floor Wednesday to amend and soften the new rules to encourage more debate, but Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) and House Republicans rejected each attempt in a mostly party-line vote.