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Democratic efforts to repeal House Bill 6, require facemasks amid Statehouse coronavirus outbreak rejected by House Republicans

December 8, 2020
Democratic Newsroom

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong-Sykes (D-Akron) and Minority Whip Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) today issued statements after House Republicans rejected their floor amendments to repeal House Bill (HB) 6 and to require facemasks at the Statehouse.

Sykes’s repeal amendment, which came amid debate on HB 273, a bill dealing with property taxes, was ruled out of order for not being germane to the bill. Sykes and House Democrats disagreed. 

“Simply ruling a measure out of order because you don’t like it or it makes you uncomfortable doesn’t make it out of order. Both HB 6 and 273 deal with tax policy – the same subject matter. Ohioans deserve a real debate on this issue, not leaders who bend the rules to their will. In fact, that’s how we got here in the first place,” said Leader Sykes.

“Republican leadership continues to say one thing and do another on House Bill 6. They say they’re against corruption and want to repeal HB 6, but every time we offer them the opportunity, they side with the former speaker at the center of the alleged corruption scheme rather than siding with Ohio taxpayers. That’s not real leadership. That’s kicking the can down the road in an effort to sweep corruption under the rug.”

HB 6, passed in 2019, remains at the center of an alleged multi-billion dollar corruption scheme involving then-Republican House Speaker and current Rep. Larry Householder and several close associates. House Republicans Tuesday joined Householder to block the Democratic repeal amendment.

In addition to the proposed HB 6 repeal, Democrats also offered an amendment Tuesday to Senate Bill 252, which would have required facemask to be worn in the Ohio Statehouse. The proposed amendment came as three House lawmakers have tested positive for coronavirus since Friday, leading the House to cancel its Session dates for the remainder of the week. 

“Even with 17 members absent from session today and an outbreak that has caused the cancelation of the remaining session dates this week, House Republicans still cannot bring themselves to support wearing masks,” said Rep. Hicks-Hudson, who offered the amendment. “Ohioans are counting on us to provide the leadership we need to get through this crisis. Blocking mask requirements to keep members, staff and the public safe is the least we can do, but Republicans aren’t even willing to go that far. With 7,000 Ohioans already dead and a record surge getting worse, House Republicans have seemingly thrown in the towel. Ohioans deserve better.”

Republicans rejected the Democratic amendment along party lines.