New Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) released his list of committee chairs and vice chairs, with about 50 percent of those positions going to 20 of the 22 Republicans who supported him for speaker, including most of the major committees, such as finance.
Earlier this month, lawmakers elected moderate Republican Stephens as the new Speaker of the Ohio House to succeed State Representative Bob Cupp (R-Lima). The choice came despite the Republican Caucus‘ previous selection in November of State Representative Derek Merrin (R-Moncolva) as the new speaker. Although the GOP caucus voted for Merrin as Speaker of the House in December, Stephen fought in collaboration with the Democrats to collect votes and garner a win.
The group of Republicans who supported Stephens includes State Representatives Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison), Monica Blasdel (R-Columbiana County), Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton), Jon Cross (R-Kenton), Al Cutrona (R-Canfield), Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg), Brett Hudson Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville), Don Jones (R-Freeport), Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Township), Mike Loychick (R-Bazetta), Kevin Miller (R-Newark), Scott Oelslanger (R-North Canton), Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), Gail Pavliga (R-Portage County) Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House), Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville), Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron), Bob Young (R- Green), and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland).
House committees serve a very important purpose by guiding policy brought forward by members and the people of Ohio. The leadership of these committees is crucial to facilitating an organized and thorough process. Due to Stephens’ selection, these censured lawmakers have now been raised to some of the most powerful committees and positions.
Merrin’s supporters who adhered to the Republican caucus’ decision to abstain from voting for Stephens for Speaker of the House represent about 66 percent of the GOP representatives in the statehouse, and they say that they should be represented fairly.
“We also asked for 66 percent of all chairmanships, 66 percent of our members on committees, so he can’t stack powerful committees and force his agenda through,” state Representative Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) said.
Stephens declined to comment on the new assignments, but Merrin made his preferences clear earlier this month.
“We want a system of chairmanships that is based on merit. Not political favoritism. Not who supported who. We hope that Speaker Stephens treats everyone here fairly,” Merrin said.
State Representative Ron Ferguson (R-Wintersville) said that the new committee chair appointments “Is the latest in a string of lies and deceit. This is all the evidence you need. I guess selling out is valued over merit.” Ferguson cited a former statement from Stephens saying that “I don’t take anything that happened personally.”
In a memo to House Republicans over the weekend, Stephens named majority floor leader State Representative Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) to continue in that position and State Representative Jon Cross (R-Kenton) as assistant floor leader. Both had voted for Stephens as speaker. He also named State Representative Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon) as majority whip and State Representative Sharon Ray (R-Medina) as assistant majority whip, both of whom voted for Merrin as speaker.
Committee Chairmanships include:
- Agriculture, Rep. Rodney Creech (R-West Alexandria).
- Armed Services, Rep. Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta).
- Aviation & Aerospace, Rep. Adam Holmes (R-Nashport).
- Behavioral Health, Rep. Gail Pavliga (R-Atwater).
- Civil Justice, Rep. Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville).
- Commerce & Labor, Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Chillicothe).
- Constitutional Resolutions Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wayne County)
- Criminal Justice, Rep. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison).
- Economic & Workforce Development, Rep. D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron).
- Energy & Natural Resources Rep. Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville).
- Families & Aging Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Miami Township).
- Finance Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville).
- Financial Institutions, Rep. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander).
- Government Oversight, Rep. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina).
- Health Provider Services Rep. Al Cutrona (R-Canfield).
- Higher Education Rep. Tom Young (R-Washington Township).
- Homeland Security, Rep. Haraz Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg).
- Infrastructure, Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Paris Twp.).
- Insurance, Rep. Brian Lampton (R-Beavercreek).
- Pensions, Rep. Bob Young (R-Green).
- Primary & Secondary Education Rep. Adam Bird (R-New Richmond).
- Public Health Policy Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin).
- Public Utilities, Rep. Dick Stein (R-Norwalk).
- State & Local Government, Rep. Marilyn John (R-Shelby).
- Technology & Innovation, Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Township).
- Transportation, Rep. Riordan McClain (R-Upper Sandusky).
- Ways & Means Rep. Bill Roemer (R-Richfield).
- Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord)
- Joint Legislative Ethics Committee, Speaker Stephens.
The finance subcommittee chairs are:
- Agriculture, Development & Natural Resources, Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport).
- Health & Human Services, Rep. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton).
- Higher Education, Rep. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville).
- Primary & Secondary Education, Rep. Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville).
- Public Safety, Rep. Kevin Miller (R-Newark).
- Transportation, Rep. Thomas Patton (R-Strongsville).
- Infrastructure & American Rescue Plan, Rep. Jamie Callender (R-Concord).
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]