Ohio lawmakers will meet in Lima Feb. 19 for Kasich's State of the State speech

by MARC KOVAC | CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published:

Columbus -- State lawmakers agreed Jan. 30 to meet in Lima next month for Gov. John Kasich's annual State of the State speech.

The vote in the House was more lopsided in favor of the move than a year ago. The House tally was 80-16, and the Senate followed suit shortly thereafter, 24-9.

Last year, the vote was 52-42 in the House and 24-7 in the Senate, with Democrats' support needed in the former to ensure passage.

The speech is scheduled for Feb. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Lima's Veteran's Memorial Civic and Convention Center.

Last year, Kasich gave the State of the State in Steubenville, marking the first time in modern history the speech was offered outside of Ohio's capital city.

Earlier this month, he asked lawmakers' permission to take the speech on the road again, this time heading to Lima, a community of about 40,000 is roughly between Dayton and Toledo on Interstate 75. It's roughly 90 miles from the Statehouse.

Rep. Matt Huffman, a Republican from Lima who was among supporters Wednesday, called Kasich's decision to give the speech away from Capitol Square as "a wonderful new tradition."

"We don't have a professional sports franchise … we're not the state capitol," he said. "But we do have a great deal of hometown pride."

But Rep. Ronald Gerberry, a Democrat from Austintown, continued to oppose the move, citing the tradition of holding the annual address to lawmakers in the Ohio House chambers.

"What we've done is to take one last tradition and we've turned it into a political event," he said.

Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, a Republican from Napoleon who voted against Kasich's decision last year, admitted he was "eating crow" this year and supporting the move.

"I learned a lot going to Steubenville …," he said, adding, "It was good for the Steubenville area to have the State of the State in that community and that county, and it will be good for the people of Lima …"

Even Rep. Bob Hagan, a Democrat from Youngstown and frequent critic of Kasich and Statehouse Republicans, supported the move this year, offering his hometown as the next State of the State site.

"I can build a wonderful stage over an injection well …," he joked.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.