COLUMBUS, Ohio (CGE) – The House Republican Caucus, now the majority after last week’s decisive wins that shifted control from Democrats who won it only two years ago, selected their leadership team Monday for the 129th General Assembly, according to a media release.
New boss not the same as the old boss
State Representative William G. Batchelder (R-Medina), who first came to the House 41 years ago in 1969, was selected by his legislative peers to serve as the 101st Speaker of the Ohio House.
“I am honored and humbled to be selected by my constituents to return as their state representative and equally honored that my legislative colleagues have entrusted me to lead the House of Representatives,” Batchelder said in prepared remarks. “The potential this state has is unlimited, and we now have the people involved who are prepared to move ahead and work in the spirit of cooperation to find thorough solutions to the matters facing Ohio.”
New GOP leadership team elected
Other members of Batchelder’s leadership team elected today include Members Louis W. Blessing Jr. (R-Cincinnati) as Speaker Pro Tempore, Matt Huffman (R-Lima) as Majority Floor Leader, Barbara Sears (R-Monclova Township) as Assistant Majority Floor Leader, John Adams (R-Sidney) as Majority Whip and Cheryl Grossman as the Assistant Majority Whip.
The official swearing in of new members and leadership positions will occur on Monday, January 3rd at 2 p.m., during opening day ceremonies in Columbus, according to GOP communication director Megan Piwowar.
Batchelder, whose distinct eye glasses have become part of his flair, represents the 69th House District, which includes portions of Medina County. He previously served for more than 30 years as a state representative in the Ohio General Assembly and served as Speaker Pro Tempore from 1995 to 1998. Batchelder served as a judge on the Ninth District Court of Appeals. He returned to the Ohio House in 2007. Batchelder will be sworn in by his wife, Judge Alice Batchelder.
Big wins by Republicans across the board last Tuesday installed GOP candidates in all statewide offices, and again returned control of the Ohio House to the GOP, who controlled it from 1994 to 2008, when Democrats won it in a year that saw Ohio swept along in the voter surge that elected Illinois Sen. Barack Obama president.
Batchelder says Medicaid on chopping block
Batchelder will take charge of a House that depending on final election results could see as many as 60 members under his control, compared to only 39 for Democrats. Sixty seats means Batchelder and company can override an executive veto, should that occur, but with Republican John Kasich occupying the governor’s seat, cooperation rather than confrontation should be the order of the day.
Batchelder, Kasich and Tom Niehaus, the likely new president of the Ohio Senate will be faced with balancing a state budget that experts say could be $8 billion or more out of balance.
While harsh decisions will be made in the coming months, Batchelder, a fiscal and social conservative who adheres in philosophy to less rather than more government, said recently in a published report that changes to Medicaid, the federal-state program for certain health care access for the poor, women and children that consumes over a billion dollars a month, cannot be avoided.
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