New Ohio House Speaker Must Work To Unite GOP Caucus

Jul 31, 2020

While all but three Republicans voted for him publicly, sources say Bob Cupp (R-Lima) he beat House Speaker Pro Tem Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) by just one vote in a private session. One thing Cupp will have to deal with some Republican lawmakers’ continuing concerns over the state’s response to the pandemic.

Cupp was elected without a single vote from Democrats. But uniting his own GOP caucus could be a problem too.

Eleven House Republicans have proposed eight bills hitting back at Gov. Mike DeWine’s public orders. All of them voted for Cupp except two who didn’t vote.

But while acknowledging some think DeWine has gone too far, Cupp said the governor has broad authority and suggested he’s not going to push back.

“That is the sort of thing we all look at in hindsight, you know, once there is a cure or a vaccine for it. So I don't really want to engage in criticism at this time," Cupp said.

DeWine's first non-budget veto was on one of those bills - a measure that would lower the fines for violating orders issued by him, his health director or local health departments.

Other bills would limit the governor's authority with health orders, to change the COVID-19 data that the state is reporting and to require that only state lawmakers could impose a mask mandate - proposed by Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), who has said he will not wear a mask.

The House also added a provision to require written permission for contact tracing to a Senate bill, which was rejected by Senators.

He’s threated to veto a bill that would reduce fines and prohibiting jail and criminal convictions for violating state or local health departments orders. Is this the right time to pass these kind of restrictions on orders designed to protect public health during a pandemic?

Former Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) was among those who questioned DeWine’s orders.

And in his last interview with the Statehouse News Bureau just days before his arrest on corruption charges, Householder said of passing these bills during a pandemic: “I can’t think of a better time for us to make certain we’re protected by our constitution.”