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Ohio House Republicans say Senate’s actions unconstitutional

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(The Center Square) – While Democrats seem to have solved President Joe Biden’s ballot issue in Ohio, Republican in-fighting continues as the state’s first special legislative session in a decade continues.

House Republicans questioned Tuesday’s Senate passage of an amended House bill previously introduced in regular session that allows Biden to be on the ballot and bans foreign money in political campaigns.

House Speaker Pro Temp Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton, and Majority Leader Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, believe precedent and the state constitution require new bills to be introduced during a special session rather than being carried over from the regular session.

Oelslager and Seitz in a joint statement said, “As members who were present for the last special session, we cannot follow the logic being used by the Senate to conduct business during this special session. The Ohio Constitution clearly outlines the parameters for a special session, and prior precedent dictates the procedure.”

The Senate amended and passed House Bill 271, which was introduced in the House in September and dealt solely with the numbering of state issues on the ballot.

It was introduced in the Senate on May 14.

Oelslager and Seitz said two constitutional articles require a special session to be “wholly contained,” and new legislation must be drafted. They also said the bill contains provisions unrelated to Gov. Mike DeWine’s special session call.

DeWine’s calls included legislation to ensure both major party presidential candidates will be on the Ohio ballot in November and legislation to prohibit campaign spending by foreign nationals.

“The characterization of this session as consistent with prior precedent is incorrect,” Oelslager and Seitz said. “The way the Senate is conducting business is constitutionally and procedurally questionable, and it presents undue litigation risk that can be wholly avoided by reaching agreement between the chambers on a correctly numbered bill addressing foreign money in Ohio elections.”

Before the Senate passed 271 on Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee announced it would hold a virtual roll call vote to officially nominate Biden ahead of the state’s Aug. 7 deadline. The DNC’s national convention is scheduled for Aug. 19-22 in Chicago.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Wednesday morning he welcomed the DNC’s movement.

“Nearly two months ago, I warned the Democratic Party that the dates they chose for their nominating convention don’t comply with Ohio’s ballot access law, and I offered two alternatives to fix the problem. It’s encouraging that they’re now actively pursuing both of those options,” LaRose said in a statement. “The Democratic National Committee is reportedly planning to move up the date of its official nominating convention, making its gathering in Chicago later this summer merely a ceremonial event, and the Ohio General Assembly continues to work on temporarily adjusting the certification deadline. Whatever the outcome, I’m hopeful this gets resolved quickly and in the best interest of Ohio voters so we can move forward with preparing for the November election.”

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