COLUMBUS —Ohio Democrats may have claimed victories at the top of the ticket in November, but the state’s Republicans walked into the 130th General Assembly with the stronger hand on Monday.
They picked up a key 60th seat in the state House of Representatives, adding a super-majority in the lower chamber to that they already held in the Senate. That 60th vote means Republicans alone can now override a gubernatorial veto and directly place referendum issues on the state ballot.
Among other things, the new legislature will tackle a new two-year budget this year, consider Gov. John Kasich’s plan to borrow against the Ohio Turnpike to fund highway projects across the state, debate a new school funding formula, and re-examine state taxes.
“We’ve all been sworn in, and I hope it will be a long time before we’re sworn at,” new Senate President Keith Faber (R., Celina), a conservative, said in a chamber where Republicans outnumber Democrats 23-10.
Rep. Bill Batchelder (R., Medina) retains the speaker’s gavel in the House in his final term.
Veteran state Rep. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) is again Senator Gardner, moving back to the upper chamber following the retirement of Sen. Mark Wagoner (R., Ottawa Hills).
Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island), chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party — is back in the House to represent Ottawa and Erie counties’ 89th District.
Two former area county commissioners took the oath as state representatives: former Wood commissioner Tim Brown (R., Bowling Green), replacing Mr. Gardner in the 3rd District, and former Paulding commissioner Tony Burkley (R., Payne), replacing Defiance Republican Bruce Goodwin in the 82nd District encompassing Defiance, Paulding, and Van Wert counties and part of Auglaize County.
Northwest Ohio has two posts in Republican leadership in the House, with state Reps. Matt Huffman (R., Lima) and Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township) ranking in the number two and three spots respectively.
State Rep. Matt Szollosi (D., Oregon) remains the number-two Democrat.
After a tumultuous first half of the last two-year session, highlighted by Republican passage of Senate Bill 5 restricting collective bargaining rights and its subsequent rejection by voters, Mr. Faber invoked President Lincoln as he extended an olive branch to minority Democrats.
“We look forward to working with you and doing good things together for Ohio,” he said. “However, it’s also important to remember that Lincoln also said, ‘Only he who has the heart to help has the right to criticize.’ ’’
State Sen. Edna Brown (D., Toledo) was sworn in again as assistant minority whip. She said she took Mr. Faber at his word.
“I would expect no less from the new president,” she said.
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.
NORTHWEST OHIO LAWMAKERS
Edna Brown (D., Toledo)
Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green)
Cliff Hite (R., Findlay)
David Burke (R., Marysville)
Matt Szollosi (D., Oregon)
Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township)
Michael Ashford (D., Toledo)
Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo)
Tim Brown (R., Bowling Green)
Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island)
Robert Sprague (R., Findlay)
Rex Damschroder (R., Fremont)
Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon)
Tony Burkley (R., Payne)
Jeff McCain (R., Upper Sandusky)