Ohio House Leader Says He Cannot Require Lawmakers To Wear Masks

May 28, 2020

The leader of the Ohio House of Representatives says he cannot compel members to practice some of the safety measures recommended by Ohio’s health director to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) says he has limited authority over what members of the Ohio House do because they are elected.

“I can’t keep them away from here. I can’t require them to have their temperature taken. I can’t require them to wear a mask. I can’t even require them not to sit in their chairs. If the members want to sit in their chairs and cast their votes, there’s nothing I can do about that," Householder says.

 Householder himself, along with most Republicans, do not wear masks in the chamber. And at least one house member, Representative Candice Keller (R-Middletown) is refusing to have her temperature taken upon entering the building where lawmakers work. Governor DeWine has required some employees to wear masks as part of some of the state's plans allowing businesses to reopen.  Representative Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), who also refuses to wear masks, has introduced a bill that would take the authority to require Ohioans to wear masks away from the governor and put that power with the legislature instead.