George Lang’s Ohio statehouse appointment: What’s really going on?

Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., received unanimous support from the Ohio House members that voted to seat him as the 52nd Ohio House District representative, succeeding former lawmaker Margy Conditt.

Conditt resigned on Sept. 8 in order to spend more time with family. She left just nine months after being elected to a third term in the Ohio House. Lang was one of seven to seek the appointment.

RELATED: George Lang officially sworn in as representative for 52nd District

Here’s what we know now about the appointment:

1. Who didn’t vote?

Not including the Lang, or his predecessor, there were 65 members of the Ohio House eligible to vote to appoint Lang. One was absent, but those remaining were at the Statehouse and some did not cast a vote — including the three lawmakers that represent a portion of Butler County. They include:

  • Ohio Rep. Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville
  • Ohio Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville
  • Ohio Rep. Larry Householder, Glenford
  • Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown
  • Ohio Rep. Al Landis, R-Dover (who was absent on Sept. 13)
  • Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton
  • Ohio Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana
  • Ohio Rep. Paul Zeltwanger, R-Mason

Retherford said he was not on the House floor because he took a last-minute meeting on a piece of legislation he is drafting. He wouldn’t say what the piece of legislation concerned but said when he arrived on the Ohio House floor he missed the vote and would have supported Lang.

“George is a friend of mine and I have known him for a long time,” said Keller, who lost out on the Butler County GOP’s endorsement but beat the endorsed candidate in the 2016 primary.. “I simply feel that the voters of Butler County need to be the ones to choose who they wish to represent them. The will of the people should always come before the will of any political party or party leadership. The voters are the ones to whom we answer. I trust the voters.”

Zeltwanger represents mostly Warren County, but does represent a small portion of Middletown. He, and the others, could not immediately be reached for comment.

RELATED: Some Republicans fuming over perceived sexist question

2. West Chester Twp. trustee race

Because of Lang’s appointment, he had to resign his seat as West Chester Twp. trustee. Since he resigned more than 40 days before the Nov. 7 election, voters will pick who will serve out his final two years on the board of trustees.

Since the full terms for West Chester Twp. trustees Lee Wong and Mark Welch will also be on November’s ballot, the entire board of trustees will be up for election.

Within the first couple hours of Lang's resignation, two people had pulled petitions. As of Monday, seven have pulled petitions and one had filed. They include:

  • Lynda Caldwell O'Connor
  • Lawrence Richard Brown
  • Randy Dale Simmons
  • David W. Corfman (filed)
  • Larry A. Whited (filed)
  • Christy Ann Miller
  • Jillian Kelley (filed)

The filing deadline for candidates to fill Lang’s unexpired term is at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Butler County Board of Elections will have to operate on a day it would normally be closed.

The filing deadline date was set because Lang resigned on a Wednesday (Sept. 13). If Lang would have resigned after the West Chester Twp. Trustees meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 12, the filing deadline would have been on Friday, Sept. 22.

3. First legislative actions

As soon as Lang was seated as the 52nd Ohio House member, he cast his first vote. House Bill 133, among other things, exempts those from state and municipal income taxes on income received by an out-of-state disaster business or qualifying out-of-state employee for work repairing public utility or communications infrastructure damaged by a declared disaster.

The bill received unanimous support in the Ohio House and moves on to the Ohio Senate.

This was also the first bill Lang signed on as a co-sponsor.

4. Scientology connection questioned

Before he was sworn into the 52nd Ohio House seat, Lang was asked by his fellow Butler County Republicans if he was a Scientologist.

Lang denied he was a Scientologist.

He was asked the question because he spoke several years ago at the opening of a Church of Scientology center Northern Kentucky.

RELATED: George Lang: I’m not a Scientologist … but what if I was?

5. Committee assignments

As of Monday, Lang has not been assigned to any committees, said Brad Miller, spokesman for Speaker Cliff Rosenberger.

Miller said the speaker was considering a review of the overall committee assignments, which it is “not uncommon for there to be changes made throughout a general assembly.”

Miller said the speaker’s office is checking with Lang on his primary interests, and there’s not a timeline as to when Lang’s committee assignment could be set.

Conditt was assigned as vice chair of the Community and Family Advancement committee and a member of the public utilities and criminal justice committees.

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