NDRC Calls On OH GOP To Pass Measures To Protect Citizens & Legislators During Pandemic

No One Can Safely Participate in Government Unless Masks Are Mandated & Virtual Testimony Allowed

Today State Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) gave sponsor testimony for two critical bills, HB55 which would allow virtual testimony for all legislative meetings and HB56 which would require that every individual within the Statehouse wear a mask. Beyond being common sense, these bills are of course backed by science. Nearly one year into this deadly pandemic we know that masks significantly stop the spread of COVID-19 and that even with that protective measure given the pandemic there are still several vulnerable populations who if they want to participate safely would need to do so virtually in a remote setting. 

“It is dangerous and unconscionable that Republicans in the Ohio Statehouse refuse to wear masks and are blocking virtual testimony in the midst of a pandemic that has ravaged the state, killing to date 17,222 individuals. These elected officials are able to get away with these purely undemocratic actions because of how gerrymandered their districts remain. And they’re hoping they will be able to ram through new bad maps this year during the redistricting process,” said Molly Mitchell NDRC States Press Secretary. 

“NDRC and our affiliate organizations are going to continue to put pressure on Ohio Republican lawmakers to do the bare minimum to make the Statehouse safe and available for all Ohioans to have their voice heard – not just on redistricting but also on other critical issues including healthcare and education during COVID-19,” continued Mitchell.

Earlier this week a Toledo Blade editorial described the Statehouse as a circus, writing about Republican leaders in both chambers saying, “Their hostility to reasonable precautions like wearing masks and keeping their distance … are not only health risks; they are denying the public access to democratic government in Ohio. Citizens are forced to accept entirely unreasonable health risks to speak to elected leaders making laws in this state. That’s shameful, though it seems Ohio’s elected leaders are too often incapable of shame.