COLUMBUS –Yesterday, State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) participated in a virtual press conference with other House Democratic lawmakers to discuss legislative solutions that are needed as the state faces multiple unprecedented crises. The Ohio House was scheduled to meet for an if-needed House session yesterday, but Speaker Robert Cupp canceled on Friday, Sept. 11.
“It’s pretty simple – Ohioans are counting on us to do our jobs, the jobs they elected us to do,” said Rep. West. “They are counting on us to restore the public trust immediately as a result of the HB 6 scandal, to provide further economic relief, especially for the scores of people who are struggling to make ends meet right now, to ensure safe workplaces and safe schools amid the pandemic, to begin to redress decades upon decades of racial inequity and injustice, particularly in our law enforcement and criminal justice systems, to make voting easier, not harder, and so much more. The time to return to work is not next week, the week after that, or later this year; the time is now. Ohioans quite literally cannot afford for us to delay any longer.”
The decision to cancel comes after Speaker Cupp ended House session early on Sept. 2 after Democrats planned to offer several measures to repeal House Bill (HB) 6, the nuclear plant bailout law at the heart of a $61 million Statehouse bribery scandal led by former Republican Speaker Larry Householder. Former Speaker Householder and several associates were arrested and indicted for their roles in the alleged corruption scheme.
This was the latest attempt by House Republicans to block Democratic efforts to repeal HB 6. Previous Democratic efforts have included filing a protest of the passage of House Bill 6 and filing a discharge petition to bring bipartisan legislation to repeal HB 6 to the floor for a vote. House Republicans aggressively worked to thwart that effort by requiring that signatures be done in person and not electronically like all other legislation.
House Democrats also highlighted the obstructionist tactics of Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose to suppress the vote for the upcoming November election. Monday, House Dems slammed LaRose and GOP lawmakers for refusing to fund absentee ballot postage and pointed out that the Secretary does not need legislative approval to make the general election more accessible during a pandemic. House Democrats have consistently called on Sec. LaRose to use existing funds to pay for postage if the legislature fails to address it.
A recording of the virtual press conference can be found here.