Why Ohio House can’t pass bills

COLUMBUS — Parliamentarians are having their day at the Ohio Statehouse, with Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger’s resignation last month creating a historic mid-session vacancy.

Ohio House Speaker Pro Tempore Kirk Schuring, a Canton Republican, has handled daily operations since Rosenberger’s April 12 departure amid an FBI investigation. But Schuring’s leadership role only goes so far.

Here’s a look at why Ohio House law-making has been brought to a standstill by Rosenberger’s departure:

Can’t No. 2 do the job?

No. The speaker pro tempore doesn’t automatically ascend to the speakership when the speaker leaves. Under governing rules and parliamentary procedures, the speakership of the Ohio House must be “filled by election.”

Until that happens, no bills can be passed.

House rules require “a majority of those present” to support the winning candidate, said House spokesman Brad Miller. That means the winning number could fluctuate.

And it’s actually even more complicated than that.

Schuring has insisted that the winning candidate have 50 Republican votes before lawmakers are called to the floor for a vote, enough so the majority caucus actually controls a majority of the House votes.

“I want to make sure I have absolute assurances that we have 50 votes for our nominee,” he said. “Some have suggested we’re at 50 now, but I want to use the old carpenter’s axiom that you measure twice and cut once.”

Republican House Finance Chairman Ryan Smith, who wants to continue as speaker next session, claims to have the votes to win, but it’s unclear.

The rival candidate, state Rep. Andy Thompson, is backed by former Speaker Larry Householder, who also wants to be speaker next session.

The Householder camp insists “the short-term solution” of putting Thompson in the job is the best way to rid the chamber of the cloud left by Rosenberger, whose leadership team included Smith. It also doesn’t hurt that blocking Smith now would help Householder’s bid for the speakership later.

Without a speaker, the House is paralyzed.