Interim Ohio House Leader Has Options To End Speaker Stalemate Next Week

May 30, 2018

There still aren’t any voting sessions scheduled in the Ohio House this week. But the leader of majority Republicans has put forward a new way to end the impasse.

Speaker Pro Tem Kirk Schuring says he wants the House to get back to work next week. And he what he’s calling two possible mechanisms to make that happen then.

One plan Schuring is floating calls for a vote from the full House, including Democrats, to elect a new speaker using the current rules.

Plan B calls for a session to vote on changing the rules to allow Schuring, as Speaker Pro Tem, to remain in charge through the end of this year, allowing him to oversee legislation that’s on deck.

That’s a plan some members appear to be leaning toward, including former Speaker Larry Householder, who wants to be speaker next year and is not in the contest to be short-term speaker.

Householder reportedly talked with Schuring and Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken about that option over the weekend. State Rep. Kyle Koehler is clear about his choice.

“I’m concerned that somehow we are going settle on an interim speaker or no speaker at all," Koehler says. "I do not want legislation that we are going to pass in the next seven months to have an asterisk next to it. It needs to be just as valid as the laws we passed a year ago and the laws we will pass a year from now. I’m calling on Speaker Pro Tem to call for a vote. I want to vote so we can get back to business."

Schuring isn’t ready to call for either option yet. He’s asking both Republican and Democratic members to inform him of their choices by the end of the day Friday.

But 11 Republicans who back state Rep. Ryan Smith to take over for former Speaker Cliff Rosenberger through the end of this year say it’s time to take a vote now.

State Rep. Craig Riedel says Smith was just three votes shy of getting the 50 needed in the caucus to be elected speaker under the current rules.

“So he has the vast, vast support of the majority of the House Republican party," Riedel says. "What I’m here to say today and I know my peers and friends behind me are in agreement, I’m asking the small group of people who have yet to get behind Ryan for the interim speaker to reconsider and get behind Ryan so we can get back to work as the House of Representatives because that is what we are here to do."

Riedel and the other representatives who delivered this message to reporters would not answer questions. And since that press conference, new ones came up about the possible scenarios that could be happening to resolve the speaker fight.

“Well, I think the whole thing is ridiculous,” says Democratic state Rep. David Leland.

He says it’s up to Republicans to solve this problem.

“They are in charge," Leland says. "They have almost two-third of the vote in the house. They are the ones who are making the rules. They are the ones who are breaking the rules. They are the ones who have got us into this mess."

Leland says he’s talking with other members of his caucus to try to figure out where they stand on the latest offers from Schuring.

But Leland says he wants to make sure any solution would not sweep any possible wrongdoing by Rosenberger under the rug.

Rosenberger resigned in April after saying he had hired an attorney because the FBI was interested in his activities involving lobbyists. Rosenberger has said he didn’t do anything illegal or unethical.