Despite late night and weekend work, statehouse leaders still require business attire

“Business casual” took hold in the American workplace more than three decades ago but it has yet to reach the floor of the Ohio House and Senate.

Over the weekend during marathon state budget talks, senators and representatives showed in suits, ties, skirts, jackets dresses and heels and dress shoes – suitable for a voting session, wedding or funeral.

Call it old school but House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, says he has no plans to relax the dress code. In fact, during a recent “non-voting” session, he said he told state Rep. Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville, that he had to wear a jacket and tie on the House floor.

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“We follow a decorum in this House out of respect for the people of Ohio. We need to continue to do that,” said Householder, who was wearing a gray suit, white shirt and yellow tie for a Sunday night session. “We are blessed with the opportunity to work here.”

Legislatures across the country are among the holdouts who still insist on business attire.

Employees of the Ohio House and Ohio Senate must adhere to a dress code or risk discipline, including being sent home to change on their first offense.

“Attire should be clean and pressed, should not have holes or stains, and should not be faded, torn or frayed,” the House dress code tells staff. “Shirts should be tucked in at all times. Gentlemen should be neatly groomed, including beards, mustaches and goatees.”

During summer or legislative breaks, staff can go with business casual — but only if their lawmaker isn’t in the office and they aren’t meeting with lobbyists or constituents.

“Anytime you are in the House Chamber, you are to be in business attire,” a recent memo to staff says. “That includes conducting tours for school groups.”

Other no-no’s: leggings of any kind, facial piercings other than ears, strapless dresses, cargo pants and any articles of clothing made of denim.

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