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Ohio House Republicans Vote Down Mask Requirement For Lawmakers

The Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus on March 26, 2020.
Ryan Hitchcock
The Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus on March 26, 2020.

The Ohio House's Republican majority has defeated a motion to require all members to do what employees and visitors at the Ohio Statehouse already must do – wear a face covering.

The measure failed 58-31, with Democrats voting in favor and the majority Republicans voting against it. A few shouts of “shame on you” followed the vote.

Some of the Democrats who would have likely voted for the motion were not there because they are impacted somehow by COVID-19.

Some elected House members and Senators have refused to wear masks. Democratic state Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus), the sponsor of the motion, says those members tell her they are willing to take the risk.

“If your decision to not wear a mask only subjected you to sickness and health, I would not be standing here asking you to wear a face-covering today. The reality is your choice not to wear a mask impacts more than just yourself," Boggs says.

Although Ohio has a statewide face mask mandate in place, Republican legislative leaders have insisted they can't force elected lawmakers to abide by it – even as several House and Senate members and their staffers have tested positive for COVID-19.

In May, Ohio House Republicans shot down a similar measure from Democrats that would make masks mandatory in the Statehouse, and one Democratic representative filed a complaintwith the Franklin County Health Department over working conditions in the Ohio House.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.