During the media gaggle following House session on June 1st, Speaker Batchelder explained that in moving forward on the legislature’s election reform bills, the House and Senate must cooperatively discuss each chamber’s version of the election reform bill and examine the differences between the two. “So generally speaking, we would have the primary sponsor from each house go in a quiet room and work out the differences between the two houses,” Batchelder had said, indicating to members of the media that a discussion between Representative Bob Mecklenborg and Senator Mark Wagoner is necessary in order to determine which bill should be the vehicle for comprehensive election reform.

In response to false claims by the House Democrats that the speaker had called for Democrats to “be intentionally shut out of the process,” Rep. Mecklenborg released the following statement:

“Partisan distortions and empty rhetoric have continued to be the mainstay of the minority caucus during this General Assembly—and unfortunately, these ludicrous claims about the election bill are just another example of meaningless theatrics from the other side of the aisle.

“Speaker Batchelder is an upstanding steward of the people of Ohio and has long embraced the necessity for transparency and accountability in the Ohio House. What the speaker meant by his comment was that the sponsors of the House and Senate bills should meet to discuss the differences between the bills, not make any final decisions on their contents. I’m extremely disappointed that the Democrats exploited the speaker’s remark and took his statement out of context, though I’m not surprised as the politics of distraction have become the primary strategy for the caucus of all talk and no ideas.

“There is truly no one within this great institution who values an open process more than Speaker Batchelder, and to suggest that any member of our caucus—let alone the speaker—would avoid the Sunshine Law is blatantly false. I believe the people of Ohio will be able to see this attack for what it is: merely another partisan attempt to distract from a good, honest effort to clean up the elections process in Ohio.”

It is a common, long-held practice for sponsors of companion legislation to meet at multiple points during the legislative process to exchange thoughts on differences between their bills. Doing so helps to achieve consensus and resolve problems with the bills in advance, rather than fixing them at the last minute.

Overall, the State Government and Elections Committee process on H.B. 194 was open and transparent, providing plenty of opportunity for the public to testify. There were five hearings in the committee and 18 witnesses who spoke to the bill.


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