Members of the Ohio House of Representatives have continued to collect paychecks from the taxpayers of Ohio for little to no work since the sudden exit of House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger in April, when the FBI began investigating him.
“I’m ready to get back to work,” said State Rep. Rick Carfagna, R-Genoa Township (68th District). “I’ve been ready to get back to work. I’ve got tax dollars sitting around doing nothing.”
Rosenberger was speaker of the Ohio House from 2015 to 2018.
State Rep. Kirk Schuring, 48th District, which includes portions of Stark County, is currently serving as speaker pro tempore for the 132nd General Assembly.
Carfagna said there are a lot of bills in the House that have a broad bipartisan support that are pending that local governments, school systems, and constituents are counting on. He said for representatives to argue for closing the House down and “not working until the end of the year is absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “Especially when we keep collecting a paycheck, keep getting our health care and our benefits.”
The role of speaker of the Ohio House is explained on the House’s website as follows: “As the head of the Ohio House, the Speaker guides the agenda of the chamber, presides over session and provides direction to fellow members and staff. Along with the House Leadership team, the Speaker decides when bills sponsored by individual members reach the House floor for a vote and determines committee chairmanships and leadership positions in his or her respective caucus.”
Carfagna said he supports State Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell (93rd District), as the next speaker of the Ohio House. He said that Smith received over 72 percent of the Republican caucuses vote to be the speaker.
“We need to get behind the speaker,” he said. “Now, if I ran in an uncontested primary election and got 72 percent of the vote, I would look for you to agree that is an overwhelming margin victory. That, in fact, is a mandate, in my opinion.”
Carfagna said that at any other time in the history of the Ohio House, the majority party has come together to vote for a speaker. Once the votes are cast, the entire party gets behind the person that pulled the majority of the caucus vote.
“This is unprecedented for some members of our party to hold out,” he said. “The overwhelming majority of our caucus has spoken already. We’re in favor of Ryan Smith. We trust in his ability to lead us to at least the minimum of the remaining seven months. We’ve got a lot of business to get back to, and I think it’s going to be very hard for some of our members to justify that tone of being obstructionists.”
State Rep. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell (67th District), only has seven months left in the House due to term limitations. Currently, Brenner is the Republican nominee for the District 19 seat in the Ohio Senate.
“I’m a supporter of the interim person because I do not want to be making a decision leaving the chamber on potentially a permanent solution on the next General Assembly,” he said. “If Cliff Rosenberger had not resigned, he would have carried out through the end of the General Assembly, and he would have had a person that would have been selected. It probably would have been Smith or (Larry) Householder.”
State Rep. Larry Householder, 72nd District, is in his first term, again. He had previously served in the House from 1996 to 2004, leaving his seat due to term limits. He served as speaker of the House from 2001 to 2004.
Brenner said he thought ultimately the House would come together behind a speaker.
“I want to make sure that the next speaker has a good plan for how he is going to manage the committee chairs, how he’s going to handle the committee process, how he’s going to handle the political donations coming into the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee, and making sure those plans are fair to both the committee chairs and the process, as well as fair to the members running for office. That was basically what I told Rep. Smith two weeks ago when he was asking for my support,” Brenner said.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.