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Frustrated With House Standoff, Rep. Smith Urges Speaker Vote Now

Ohio House

The fight over the next Speaker of the Ohio House continues to take strange turns.

Speaker Pro Tem Kirk Schuring has given legislators until close of business Friday to vote on one of two plans to resolve the standoff: Either take a vote from the full House to elect a new speaker under current rules, or change the rules allowing Schuring himself to lead through December.

A vote is currently scheduled for June 6 to elect a Speaker.

But Finance Chair and state Rep. Ryan Smith, along with 26 of his House colleagues, want to vote immediately.

“Let’s have a vote. Let’s have clarity,” Smith says. “I’m a big boy. I can take it either way. But let’s go.”

Smith wants to not only take the role of interim Speaker through December, but also the full term next year. He says he has enough votes already, and is backed in his plan not just by Republicans but also by Democratic state Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent.

Schuring says the House won’t be back in session until Tuesday, so he can’t call for a vote right now. But state Rep. Mike Duffey, who backs Smith, says if the powers-that-be wanted that vote, it could happen.

“They could ask the Highway Patrol to go collect all 99 members," Duffey says.

Duffey says Smith’s supporters are being denied access to the House’s legal counsel, so they can’t ask for an opinion.

State Rep. Larry Householder, who's also running for speaker in January, called for a rule change allowing Schuring to continue serving as Speaker through the end of the year.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.