COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio’s newly elected Speaker of the House is no stranger to the job, but Republican Larry Householder apparently has a new outlook on how to move state government forward.
Householder is a controversial figure who was sometimes accused of using strong-arm tactics when he led the House a decade ago. He resumed the Speakership in January after striking a deal to win support from some Democrats, who helped vote him back into his leadership position. Householder sat down with NBC4’s Colleen Marshall to talk about the changes that are happening during his second-time around as Speaker.
Householder said that many things have changed since he last served as Speaker from 2001 to 2004, including the challenges facing both legislators and everyday Ohioans.
“The last time I was Speaker, our challenge at that time was that Ohio had a lot of people that were unemployed, and we had less jobs,” he recalled. “Today, we have a lot of good jobs, but they are high-skilled jobs, so we need to try to move those people that are in the job market into a better skill area.”
Another challenge facing the House of Representatives is the transportation budget shortfall, which Gov. Mike DeWine wanted to fix with an 18-cent hike in the state’s gas tax. The House ultimately rejected that idea and offered up a plan of their own: a proposed 10.7-cent tax increase on gasoline and a 20-cent increase for diesel that Householder says equates to about a 14-cent increase overall.
“Our job in the House was to take the information that was provided to us and try to find a budget that worked for the State of Ohio, one that we believed Ohioans could afford but one that would take care of immediate problems in the state,” Householder said.
Householder also pointed to previous General Assemblies’ lack of attention to the transportation budget shortfall in previous sessions as the reason why the need for an increase in the gas tax is so urgent right now.
Not only is Householder trying to play catch up with the transportation budget, but he is also working to keep promises he made to Democrats when he was striking deals for their support of his campaign for Speaker. Householder said he promised a more open bipartisan process and that he’s already seeing results.
He said that livestreaming and recording committee sessions was a big part of the deal he made with Democrats.
“Two weeks from now we will open up the first committees and have that livestreaming being done,” he said. He expects the rest of the committees to have livestreaming capabilities by the end of the summer.
Householder also promised Democrats that there would be at least three cochairmen between Republicans and Democrats jointly chairing subcommittees, something he said is already done and that those subcommittees are already having hearings.
He also said that the amendment process in committees is now more balanced and fair.
“If you made amendments in committee, we didn’t automatically table the amendments. We would here them out and vote on them,” he said.
He said all those things are coming together for the larger goal of creating a more civil and respectful House floor where legislators could work together on issues that matter to Ohioans.