Lawmakers move to oust Householder from ethics committee

State lawmakers on Wednesday took action to remove former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, who pleaded not guilty to a federal racketeering charge, from the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee.

JLEC is a bipartisan panel that oversees and investigates ethical issues involving lawmakers, legislative staff and registered lobbyists.

A last-minute change to House Bill 66 includes a provision to boot Householder from JLEC and allow the new speaker, Bob Cupp, R-Lima, to remove Householder from the board that oversees the Statehouse and its grounds. Householder joined his colleagues in unanimous agreement to the Senate amendments.

The Senate also voted in favor of:

  • Senate Bill 311, which would block the state health department from issuing statewide quarantine orders to include people who aren’t sick or haven’t been exposed to infectious diseases. It would undercut the authority of the state health director and give lawmakers more oversight. Proponents of the measure say Ohioans have endured unprecedented government overreach through the COVID19 pandemic. Opponents argued that the bill would hamper Ohio’s ability to respond swiftly to public health crises. The bill, which cleared the Senate 20-12, now goes to the House for consideration.
  • Senate Bill 34, which seeks to ban “pass the trash” practices. If there is reasonable cause to believe a school employee committed a sex offense involving a student, district officials would be barred from helping that person find another school job.
  • Senate Bill 256, which would prohibit life without parole sentences for offenders who were younger than 18 at the time of the crime. “Life without hope may be one of the cruelest punishments imaginable,” said state Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, sponsor of the bill.

Both chambers are considering bills to repeal House Bill 6, the controversial energy bailout bill at the center of an alleged $60 million bribery scheme, but so far nothing has gained the necessary momentum.

Nine weeks ago, FBI agents arrested Householder, R-Glenford, and four other men and U.S. Attorney David DeVillers detailed what he called the largest public corruption scandal in Ohio history.

Since the case was made public, calls for repeal of HB6 have been broad and persistent. House Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to insert repeal language into multiple bills receiving floor votes.

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