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Smith: Partisan stifling of democratic process amid Statehouse chaos spills over to Ohio House Education Committee

May 23, 2018
Kent Smith News

As the Ohio House today cancelled sessions for this week amid an FBI raid on the home of former GOP Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and the failure to elect a new speaker, House Education and Career Readiness Committee Chairman Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) violated House rules and ended committee when it became apparent Democratic amendments to Senate Bill 216 could pass.

“Rep. Fedor and I believe that local leaders, not Columbus bureaucrats, know what is best for their local communities and neighborhood schools,” said state Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid), a member of the committee. “That is why we introduced Amendment #1923 today in Education Committee as an amendment to SB 216.”

Smith and Fedor offered an amendment to the Senate Bill to freeze additional state takeovers of local school districts. The state has already taken control of Youngstown City Schools and Lorain City Schools.

“HB 70, from the 131st General Assembly, is not only bad education policy, it is bad for democracy and frankly, it is devastating to our children and communities,” said Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), who serves as the ranking in the committee. “That’s why we’re working to prevent this takeover from affecting additional school districts. This is a crisis for our public education system and we cannot let it become worse.”

Chairman Brenner was opposed to the amendment and called for the amendment to be tabled, or set aside, but lost the vote to table 9 to 6 with four GOP representatives joining all five Democrats on the committee to stop state public school takeovers.

Brenner called for a caucus and attempted to rustle up additional GOP votes, but after thirty minutes of unsuccessful efforts he abruptly ended the House Education Committee without allowing a vote on the amendment.

“The irony of today’s actions by Republican Chair Brenner was that the only way he could stop the future loss of representative democracy for countless Ohio communities was to stop representative democracy today in Ohio House Committee Room,” added Smith. “Clearly the chaos, dysfunction and gridlock of partisan politics in the House has spilled over to every facet of work at the Statehouse.”

House Republicans cancelled session today for the fourth time.