Sunday, December 05, 1999

Jolivette tries to referee House speaker matchup


The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Greg Jolivette hasn't been in the General Assembly very long. But he knows a public, intraparty feud isn't good politics.

        With a behind-the-scenes race for the next House speaker threatening to boil over, the Hamilton Republican is proposing a deal between the contenders — Reps. Bill Harris of Ashland and Larry Householder of Glenford.

        In a letter to Mr. Householder, Mr. Jolivette suggested it would be in the best interests of the GOP for Mr. Harris to serve as speaker in 2001 and 2002. Mr. Householder would step in the following two-year term.

        “If you were to agree, the caucus could concentrate on the job at hand, which is re-electing and recruiting Republicans to the majority,” Mr. Jolivette wrote. “There is plenty of anxiety about this leadership battle within the caucus, and it could easily disrupt our duties.”

        Term limits have sparked the struggle for power over the legislative agenda.

        The current speaker, Jo Ann Davidson of Reynoldsburg, will be out of a job after the November 2000 elections. Mr. Householder and Mr. Harris, two of Ms. Davidson's lieutenants, have been busy lining up supporters and raising money to use as chits when House Republicans decide who their next leader will be.

        Mr. Householder hasn't replied to Mr. Jolivette's letter. But its a safe bet that he and Mr. Harris aren't about to concede to each other. Not yet, at least.

        Starting in July, some Cincinnati-area motorists won't have to drive all over town to get the paperwork completed for licenses and registrations.

        A Bureau of Motor Vehicles office at 4790 Red Bank Expressway is to become one of six pilot centers for services that now are spread out among driver examination stations, deputy registrar offices and county clerk of courts offices.

        Anybody who has waited in line or been forced to fill out forms in three separate offices probably wonders why it took so long. If the state wasn't aware of the level of frustration among motorists, they found out after reading results of a survey conducted by Ohio State University.

        The survey found that more than 30 percent of motorists who entered a deputy registrar's office weren't served promptly. Twenty-four percent of the respondents said the service, when they got it, was bad.

        Motorists statewide also will be able to renew their license plate stickers and register their vehicles over the phone or the Internet.

        It's rare to find Senate President Richard Finan without an opinion on an issue. The Evendale Republican generally doesn't mince words telling you how he feels.

        The latest example of Finanspeak comes from his own weekly column, in which he informs his constituents about a new law intended to crack down on the misuse of parking passes for the disabled.

        Among other things, the law requires a person seeking a parking placard to have a physician or chiropractor's prescription. It also requires the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to scour death records once a year to purge the deceased from the list of authorized placard holders.

        “Sounds a little like a Chicago voter registration drive,” Mr. Finan quipped.

        Violators now can face a fine between $250 and $500, up from $100.

        But that didn't go far enough for Mr. Finan. “I couldn't get my concept of just letting the air out of all four tires to be part of the bill,” he lamented.

        Michael Hawthorne covers state government for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He can be reached at (614) 224-4640.


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