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Householder Plans To Gather Member Input Before Setting Priorities, Organizing Chamber

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  • Householder Plans To Gather Member Input Before Setting Priorities, Organizing Chamber

    Speaker Larry Householder said Wednesday he plans to follow the same approach he took 15-plus years ago in developing policy priorities for the House, which will entail meeting with members individually and as a caucus before setting forth an agenda.


    The Glenford Republican, who served as speaker from 2001-2004 before he was forced out by term limits, retook the gavel Monday in a stunning conclusion to a months-long, oftentimes bitter battle with Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell). With a push from minority Democrats, the lawmaker overcame the support of most Republicans for his adversary to retake his leadership role – a result unprecedented in recent Ohio history that took many Statehouse observers by surprise. (See Gongwer Ohio Report, January 7, 2019)

    Given the abruptness of the leadership change – Rep. Smith and Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) had already laid out some of their priorities – Mr. Householder said in an interview he plans to take a couple weeks longer than usual to map out his path forward.

    "My system is that I will talk with individual members about their interests and priorities leading up to Jan 23rd retreat," he said. "We will set a House agenda during the retreat, create committees based on the agenda, formulate leadership based on the agenda and goals and then come back ready on Feb 6th to establish those items."

    The retreat plans will impact at least the start of the full session schedule previously announced by Rep. Smith. The speaker said, for example, the House will not be in session Jan. 23 as a result of the caucus meeting. A session scheduled by Rep. Smith for Feb. 13 could also be in doubt since the speaker said the organization of the House will not take place until later next month.

    Following the retreat, he said, "From there we assign committees and begin the process about the middle of February."

    "This is the way I did it in 2001 and 2003 and feel it was successful so we are duplicating it with some minor adjustments," Mr. Householder added.

    With Democrats playing a key role in his latest ascension, the speaker was asked how that would play out in terms of setting priorities.

    "I have not yet had an opportunity to speak with the Minority Leader about how we might best handle that communication," he said.

    Speaker Householder said after his election that he was looking forward to working with Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton), who was informally selected late last year to continue as minority leader. However, he also encouraged Democrats to further consider their leadership slate after Mr. Strahorn and other members voted to support Rep. Smith.

    As with Republicans, the minority party is in the process of doing just that. While Rep. Strahorn has stated he expects to remain as caucus leader, the situation is fluid and some Democrats are wondering of a change would be for the better given Mr. Householder's election. (See Gongwer Ohio Report, January 8, 2019)

    Like other chamber leaders, Speaker Householder's prior reign was marked by mixed reviews. He won plaudits from education advocates, for instance, by putting forth a short-lived plan to considerably boost K-12 spending – a proposal shot down by then-Senate President Richard Finan and former Gov. Bob Taft.

    He irked conservatives, meanwhile, by helping to shepherd through a one-cent sales tax hike to bolster a recession-plagued state budget. That process, among others, earned the speaker the reputation of being a strong-armed leader.

    Mr. Householder was also dogged late in his tenure by an FBI probe into allegations over his fundraising methods and the activities of his top aides. The dots never solidly linked back to the speaker, however, and charges were never filed.

    Two former members of leadership who served during Mr. Householder's prior stint as speaker said they remember the lawmaker's methods being tough but inclusive.

    Republican Jon Peterson, currently the Delaware County treasurer, said the speaker was good at aligning members' assignments with their policy goals.

    A stalwart supporter of programs for the disabled, including an autism voucher program that now bears his name, Mr. Peterson, the assistant majority whip on Mr. Householder's team, said he was encouraged and helped throughout that process by the speaker.

    "My experience was that he was" inclusive, he said. "Of course, I'm speaking from a majority opinion."

    "My number one priority during that time was to oversee the development of the autism scholarship, and he gave me full rein to do that," Mr. Peterson said.

    "I felt that to be the case with other members as well. If they had a particular policy interest, he would let them develop that interest. That was my personal experience," he said.

    "Now in terms of the overriding policy things like the budget, Larry kept a pretty tight rein on it because those are some pretty big dollars."

    Mr. Peterson said he was never the focus of what critics have viewed as intimidation tactics. "I personally did not find that to be the case," he said, adding Mr. Householder "was very open to my ideas in regard to special education and other ideas."

    Former Democratic Rep. Dean DePiero, who served as minority leader during Mr. Householder's first stint as speaker, acknowledged he often butted heads with the Republican but also found ways to work with the leader. That stemmed from the mutual respect they had for each other's position of leadership, he said.

    "We developed a working relationship. We definitely had our disagreements, but I felt like he respected me in my position," Mr. DePiero said.

    "We were able to do some things together. We were able to cut a deal on redistricting one time when they needed our votes to get redistricting done because they waited too long to drop the bill," he recalled of the 2001 process of redrawing the state's congressional district boundaries. "He worked with us to draw some lines. We had significant input in that."

    "That's when Sherrod Brown's district was saved. That's probably why he's in the U.S. Senate right now."

    Mr. Brown at the time considered running for governor. As a result of the new map adjustments that were in part based on the state losing seats in Congress due to population shifts, he instead ran against fellow Democrat Tom Sawyer for Congress and won.

    "There were other examples of that. It was a different time," Mr. DePiero said.

    Nevertheless, as expected, there was a lot of friction between the two parties, both of which were led by fairly fresh lawmakers who held posts in the early years after term limits took effect.

    "I was young and he was young, a little older than me, so we were both trying to establish ourselves," Mr. DePiero said. "So I think we butted heads a little bit, but at the end of the day we were able to work together on some stuff."

    "He's tough but he works really hard. I respect the fact of how hard he works – that's certainly paid off for him," he added. "Even know we had disagreements I respected his position. I respected his work ethic."

    Mr. DePiero left the legislature to become mayor of Parma for eight years and now is of counsel with McDonald Hopkins in Cleveland. He serves as law director for the city of Aurora and also works in various legal capacities for Broadview Heights, his current hometown, and other local municipalities.

    Looking back on his lengthy career in public service, he noted he has matured quite a bit since he was a young legislator facing off with a young Mr. Householder.

    "One thing that we all know is age tends to mellow people and makes them wiser. I think Larry will use his experience that he had 15 years ago there – the things he did right and the things he could do better – and he can use that to become a much better speaker," he said.

    Mr. DePiero said the unusual political dynamic in the House could also set the stage for a successful tenure.

    "It's probably the first time in a long time that Dems can play a significant role in anything of significance around Capitol Square," he said.

    "One of the things I hope he'll do is, take a softer approach and be bipartisan. I think if he does that, he'll be one of the best speakers in a long time – if he uses this opportunity that he's been given, that the Democrats actually helped him, and he reciprocates by being bipartisan."


    Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths

    James Madison,,
    Federalist Paper No 10

  • #2
    I REALLY wanted to see something in that article where Householder swore a blood oath to get bills passed before the twenty fourth month of the two year session. That whole way of conducting business is...garbage, to put it as nicely as I know how.
    "I have decided not to vote, speak in public, assemble in groups or petition my government either directly or by writing to the newspapers.

    Some ignorant person may become alarmed, and we can't have that.''

    --CAR15A2, 3/31/09

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by brian d. View Post
      I REALLY wanted to see something in that article where Householder swore a blood oath to get bills passed before the twenty fourth month of the two year session. That whole way of conducting business is...garbage, to put it as nicely as I know how.
      Lame Duck is when our stuff always ends up on the floor for a vote. Believe me, you are NOT the only person frustrated with that. There has been a lot of discussion on that topic. Hopefully we will see that change with this General Assembly.
      Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths

      James Madison,,
      Federalist Paper No 10

      Comment

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