In their strongly worded protest (page 1,262 of the ongoing House journal), House Republicans asserted their legislative authority:
The Ohio Constitution grants legislative authority solely to the Ohio General Assembly, an authority which cannot be delegated. This request is thinly-veiled legislation creating new eligibility levels and funding levels for Medicaid. In fact, the request itself admits as much. Our protest is not about the merits or lack of merit in expanding Medicaid. Our protest goes to the fundamental form of government upon which our country was founded — a Republic of checks and balances and separation of powers. The General Assembly is a co-equal branch of government that made its intent abundantly clear. The controlling board request attempts to subvert that intent, and is contrary to the Ohio Constitution and current statutory law. For all these reasons, we protest the filing of the above described controlling board request.
The signatories include Speaker Bill Batchelder and the two House GOP members of the Controlling Board, Rep. Ron Amstutz and Rep. Cliff Rosenberger. Both Amstutz and Rosenberger are contenders to become the next speaker of the Ohio House. Adding to the drama, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported on Saturday that ”House Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina, is expected to replace the two House members on the board with substitutes. One of the replacements is expected to be a ‘yes’ vote and one a ‘no’ vote.”
“In the end,” says the Cincinnati Enquirer, “expect Ohio to expand Medicaid on Monday.”
It should be noted that this is not the first time Kasich has been accused of overstepping his constitutional authority. There are currently two cases before the Ohio Supreme Court that charge the governor with violating the state constitution (see here and here).
Rep. Matt Lynch, a vocal opponent of the Medicaid expansion, said he first heard about Kasich’s move while on a trip to Washington and his first thought was “this is war.”
Lynch said Republican House members are prepared to bring a lawsuit against the governor and the Controlling Board if they vote to circumvent the legislature. “Many of us agreed that we would act as named plaintiffs in the lawsuit to stop the Controlling Board.” Lynch said that precedent is clear that the legislature would have standing to bring the case before the Ohio Supreme Court.
Lynch called for governor to back off to avoid a constitutional crisis, saying Kasich is
grabbing authority away from the legislature and violating the separation of powers. We haven’t seen any indication that he is prepared to back down, but in the end, he should want to uphold the system of government we have with the separation of powers.
“In the end,” said Lynch, “we are prepared to go to the Supreme Court.”
“This is a situation where the governor is assuming authority he doesn’t have under the constitution and it’s an abuse of the controlling board,” said Lynch.