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Government & Politics

The Ohio Senate Gives New Meaning to the Term 'Floor Fight"

Rosenberger Boyce
ANDY CHOW
/
OHIO PUBLIC RADIO

  It's not unusual to see exchanges between lawmakers get heated, especially during the frenetic pace in the days before a long recess. Still, a face-to-face altercation inside the House Chamber between the Republican speaker and a high-ranking Democrat reached an unsettling level.

Just seconds after Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger banged the gavel to end a marathon House session, Democratic Rep. Kevin Boyce was up on the speaker’s platform engaged in a confrontation. To understand why Boyce rushed up to the speaker’s seat, you’d have to go back about 20 minutes earlier.

The session was approaching midnight and Rosenberger believed Boyce was getting off topic during his floor speech. Boyce was voicing his concerns over major changes to the prison watchdog known as the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee.

Thanks, but no thanks
First here’s Boyce: “The original amendment included the desolving of the original ...”

Then Rosenberger banged his gavel. “Would the member please, the gentleman please address, confine his remarks to the Senate amendments currently at hand.”

It was obvious Boyce was upset.

“Mr. Speaker thank you for that,” responded Boyce – sounding anything but appreciative. “I knew you were going to gavel me out of order for whatever reason. I just knew you were going to enjoy gaveling me out of order whenever you have the opportunity, so, fine.”

After a few more bills and speeches the House adjourned and officially went on summer break.

The next round
But Rosenberger and Boyce weren’t done. Reporters could see Boyce nose-to-nose with Rosenberger. Boyce cocked his head from side to side, staring intensely at Rosenberger. The altercation was so heated that the sergeant-at-arms had to be called over.

The sergeant-at-arms stayed right behind Rosenberger, who seemed to stay pretty motionless while talking in calm voice. After a few seconds the exchange was over and the speaker came down from his seat to talk to reporters, a common practice after every House session.

Rosenberger said Boyce was still angry about being gaveled out of order, “but clearly, it’s not an appropriate thing to come up and act out as he wants to continue to do.”

But Boyce said he was up there to just get an explanation.

“I asked him for the reasoning or the rule as to why I was gaveled out of order speaking regarding to the amendment. And I felt that his response was dismissive and perhaps disrespectful, and so I responded.”

No one's saying what Rosenberger said
I asked Boyce if Rosenberger said or did anything else that he deemed out of line.

“He did and I won’t repeat what he said to me, I’ll let him repeat that. But yeah, I felt that what he said was out of line and disrespectful and so I responded.”

Rosenberger told reporters that he was simply clarifying why he gaveled Boyce out of order.

Boyce added that the lawmaking process can be emotional and that there are times when exchanges get heated. He offered an apology, saying the two parties still need to work together.

Boyce is running for the Franklin County Commission and won’t be in the House after this year.