One Ohio lawmaker asks this question - what would happen if the President moved his State of the Union address from the Capitol building in Washington D.C. to an auditorium in Peoria, Illinois?
Democratic State Representative Ron Gerberry says he thinks there would be public outrage. Yet, in an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, Gerberry says the equivalent of that is happening in Ohio with the governor again delivering his State of the State away from the Statehouse.
Gerberry – I am personally offended as a member of this house that this Governor believes he can take our joint session and trot us across the state…and I heard someone say that the major complaint among legislators is that legislators are not getting mileage. I never heard that and I think if there’s any legislator that needs a few dollars for gas if that’s their problem, I think there are a number of us who will be willing to help them out. That’s how silly I think that comment is. This is not about mileage. This is about history. This is about respect for the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio General Assembly. And I believe it’s disrespectful that we take this opportunity and the Governor requests permission to address the joint session and makes a request to move it to some other place in this state. And quite frankly, I think as soon as you move it, it no longer becomes an address to us but it becomes a political event for the Governor and quite honestly, I think that’s wrong.
Ingles – Governor Kasich says the reason he wants to do this though is that he thinks it makes government more accessible to ordinary Ohioans. Do you buy that?
Gerberry- I don’t buy that at all. I believe the Governor can travel anywhere he wants. He sure found a way to make government accessible when he wanted to go out and talk about his turnpike scheme. And he started in Toledo and ended up in Mahoning County. The Governor could go make a speech anytime he wants anywhere in this state or this part of the country. This is the State of the State. This is not about the Governor. It’s about the Governor talking to members of the Ohio General Assembly. It’s not about Governor Kasich. It’s about what he sees as the state of this state and his upcoming proposals for the General Assembly. When we move it to another part of the state, we make it about him. It’s not about him.
Ingles – Now, Representative Gerberry, you are a Democrat and you know the General Assembly is controlled by Republicans, the same party as the Governor. You are probably going to be outvoted on this. You are probably going to have to go to the State of the State in some western part of the state as we are being told. Why fight it?
Gerberry – Just on principle. That’s it. I really believe there is no one in this General Assembly that respects the institution more than Bill Batchelder. I really believe Speaker Batchelder has been here longer than any other member. 30 years plus in this General Assembly. No person has greater respect for this institution. I think that’s why this resolution got 52 votes two years ago (.....and I’m hopeful it won’t get 50 votes this time. 3:43)
There are 99 members in the Ohio House. If 50 of them don’t vote to allow the State of the State to be moved to a location outside the Statehouse, the annual Gubernatorial address would have to be held there. But there are 60 Republicans in the Ohio House and only 39 Democrats. There is no reason to believe, at this point, that the State of the State won’t be moved to an alternative location. Governor Kasich has not announced where he intends to make the speech. He will only say it is in Western Ohio.