Ohioans went to the polls in November and elected Democrats for President and U.S. Senate. But when it came to races for Ohio House and Senate, Ohioans elected more Republicans than had been in the past General Assembly. In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, Mike Dittoe from the Ohio House of Representatives explains there are so many Republicans now that they have a supermajority.
DITTOE: "Well there are really two types of supermajorities in the Ohio House. Sixty seats means that a particular caucus could do one of two things. Number one, they can override a gubernatorial veto. Or two, we could vote to put things on the ballot for the voters to decide. The other type of majority – 66 votes – would allow us to pass legislation that would take effect immediately upon the governor's signature and not have the 90-day period of waiting, which is often referred to as the period of waiting. But we do not have a 66 seat majority. We have a 60 seat majority."
INGLES: "So you don’t have super-supermajority that you’d like to have. You will have a supermajority. How will that play with Democrats who say they are not going to have a lot of input anymore because you can do everything, pretty much, without them?"
DITTOE: "Well Democrats have had substantial input in this General Assembly under Speaker Batchelder, certainly much more than Republicans had when we were in the minority just the General Assembly before. So I don’t think you'll really see a lot of substantial change by a 60-seat majority, because Speaker Batchelder has run a very member-oriented House of Representatives under all 99 members. And we’ve passed a significant numbers of Democrat bills and joint-sponsored bills with Democrats. It’s been a very open and bipartisan house by-and-large."
INGLES: "Is this going to give you the opportunity to run controversial legislation through that you wouldn’t have ordinarily been able to run through as easily?"
DITTOE: "No, I don’t think this will be any sort of substantive change as far as that is concerned. The only thing a 60-seat majority allows one party to do is to override a gubernatorial veto or put things on the ballot for the voters to decide. Some Democrats lately have been decrying the effort that the GOP can put things on the ballot. I think that’s a good thing. If there’s something we need to put before voters, let’s do that because they have good instincts."
INGLES: "Are we likely to see that in this General Assembly?"
DITTOE: "Nothing has been discussed as of yet so we are not anticipating anything at this point. But let’s see what this next General Assembly comes up with. But as of now, we haven’t heard of anything."
INGLES: "What about the Right to Work Initiative? Is that something we might see?"
DITTOE: "Speaker Batchelder has been asked that on several occasions and has indicated that’s not something that’s likely to be coming up during this legislative session."
Republicans have had a supermajority in the Ohio Senate for more than a decade.