COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Speaker of the Ohio House, Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill), announced his legislative priorities for the 135th General Assembly on Wednesday. He said the bills represent ideas from all elected members.
“We have work to do to ensure that we can attract and retain the brightest to come and stay here,” Stephens said. To do this, Stephens has a list of priorities broken into three categories:
- Growing our economy
- Protecting our families
- Educating our communities
The bills range from House Bill 1, legislation to lower and flatten taxes, to House Bill 6, that “protects the integrity of girls’ sports and make certain that biological males cannot compete in female-only athletics.” House Bill 6 failed to pass from the Statehouse last general assembly.
“As a priority legislation list, I think it’s important to note that when we have 12 of anything, it’s going to be hard to find that all 12 are agreeable to all members,” Stephens said. “But, I think it gives us a direction and focus to help us in where we’re going.”
Representative Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township) — selected by Republicans as speaker-elect but ultimately lost the vote — said they are ready to stand with Stephens on bills that support and advance conservative principals, like House Bill 6.
“There’s a different between introducing a bill and saying it’s a priority and actually bringing the bill to the floor,” Merrin said. “The bills we are excited about we are going to hold the speaker accountable.”
Still, Merrin said the priority list has gaps, missing items introduced by Republicans, like ethics reform legislation and a newly introduced healthcare price transparency bill.
“We’ve grown disappointed in the lack of activity in the house,” Merrin said. “Today, we were supposed to have a house session, that’s been cancelled.”
Merrin said the Republican House Caucus will be announcing their own list of priorities. “We have a super majority, and we don’t need any ambiguity,” Merrin said.
Two weeks ago, Republicans had a caucus retreat where Stephens said they talked policy. Since then, other Republicans said there has not been enough movement.
“I think 64 members were there,” Stephens said. “We talked about policy issues and listened and tried to pull together the ideas of that caucus.”
“We went to Jason’s caucus yesterday in good faith effort, we invited them to this caucus, and they never showed up, so actions speak louder than words,” Representative Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) said. “We keep offering olive branches, we’re ready to work with them.”
In total, 52 bills were referred to house committees on Wednesday, with meetings expected next week.