COLUMBUS -- On a split vote in the Ohio House, state lawmakers gave their approval Feb. 22 for Gov. John Kasich to take this year's State of the State address on the road to Sandusky.
The House OK'd a related resolution on a vote 58-38, and the Ohio Senate followed suit shortly thereafter, 31-2, paving the way for the April 4 speech at the Sandusky State Theatre.
The governor formalized the site selection in a letter earlier this month to Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville). Lawmakers had to OK the request, via a formal resolution, to accept the proposed location.
This year's speech will mark the sixth consecutive one away from Columbus. Kasich offered his first State of the State speech in 2011 in the Ohio House Chambers, with thousands of protesters outside chanting in opposition to that session's SB 5. Voters later rejected the package of restrictions of public employee collecting bargaining activities.
He took the annual address on the road to Steubenville the following year and has traveled around the state every year since then, with stops in Lima, Medina and Wilmington. Last year's speech in Marietta also bucked tradition with its timing in April, making it one of the latest State of the States ever.
Rep. Steven Arndt (R-Port Clinton) voiced his support Wednesday for the speech taking place in his home district.
"This opportunity is to do more than attend the State of the State but to see first hand and hear the successes of our legislative policies as well as the other challenges of the residents we serve," he said, adding, "For me this is a simple vote: We can go amongst the people we serve as this House and the governor have done in the past six years or we can stay in our comfort zone away from our residents. I say we go to the people instead of the people having to come to the politicians."
Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) added during the Senate consideration, "The governor made, we believe, an exciting choice [in picking Sandusky]. Sandusky is a city on the move, lots of things to offer, a resurgence that is unmistakable This is not just an opportunity to hear the governor's State of the State address but also to learn especially how travel and tourism can be such an important part of Ohio's economic future."
Adoption was far from unanimous Feb. 22.
"This is our state capital, it's central, it's the People's House," said Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), who quoted the Declaration of Independence in voicing her opposition. "And the governor, for his own reasons, has been dragging us along to distant places We have work to do. We have a transportation budget, we've got an operating budget there's a lot work to do here, and I would say that we should do the people's work here, focus on that and stay in the People's House."
Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) cited the long tradition of having a the annual joint legislative session at the Statehouse.
"This is no 'let's all go watch the governor give a speech' ," he said. "This is a joint session of the general assembly. We will be called into session We are supposed to invite the governor to tell us, the legislators, his priorities not have a show where we're props."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.