Lawmakers Arrive for New General Assembly; Activists on Left and Right Are Concerned

Ohio’s 99 members of the House and 33 Senators got back to work in Columbus this week with the first day of the 131st General Assembly. One of the first orders of business for the new members was the official vote for leadership. In the Senate, Republican President Keith Faber of Celina and Democratic Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni of Youngstown will retain those positions. But there had been some controversy over the incoming leadership in the House. But as was the case with a caucus vote in November, Cliff Rosenberger of Clarksville in southwest Ohio was elected Speaker of the House and Fred Strahorn of Dayton as the House Minority Leader. Rosenberger had been challenged in the race for Speaker by Jim Butler of Oakwood near Dayton, who had the support of some conservative lawmakers.

The Rosenberger era has already begun. Republican Rep. Ryan Smith of Bidwell in southern Ohio nominated Rosenberger for speaker, and a few days later it was announced he will serve his second full term in the House as chair of the finance and appropriations committee. The finance committee oversees the budget, which Gov. John Kasich will release next month.

Tea Party activists around Ohio are still angry over that Rosenberger vote, which they say was controlled by Gov. John Kasich to create a rubber stamp for his policies Tom Zawistowski, is the executive director of the Portage County Tea Party.

Activists from the left are also concerned about what might happen in this General Assembly. Sandy Theis is the executive director of Progress Ohio, a coalition of liberal and Democratic groups and labor organizations.

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