Columbus -- The Republican head of the Ohio House's Ways and Means Committee blocked a Statehouse reporter from recording the March 12 hearing on Gov. John Kasich's mid-biennium budget proposals.
Rep. Jeff McClain (R-Upper Sandusky), who was installed as chairman of the panel earlier this year, told the Statehouse bureau for Dix Newspapers and The Vindicator that video coverage of the session would not be allowed.
McClain said he made the decision and received support from GOP leaders of the chamber.
"I asked for the TV and I was told no," McClain said, referring to legislative rules that block Ohio Channel broadcast of hearings other than finance committee. " … We're not making any exceptions."
He added, "We've just never had it in Ways and Means since I've been chair. I haven't been asked before."
The March 12 hearing included multiple members of the Kasich administration offering lengthy testimony on the governor's latest policy proposals.
The meeting was open to the public and took place at the Statehouse in the larger House Finance hearing room, which is equipped with cameras to allow public viewing.
The Ohio House has allowed cameras to stream and record finance committee hearings, but the chamber has not signed off on the broadcast of any other committees. The Ohio Senate does not allow broadcast of any of its committees.
Legislative rules do allow recording of committee hearings by Statehouse reporters and others, with permission from panel heads. Members of the Statehouse press corps, including public radio reporters, generally are allowed to record sessions.
Mike Dittoe, spokesman for the Ohio House's Republican caucus, said committee chairmen have discretion in determining if recording of sessions is allowed.
Asked whether the no-recording policy would cover future Ways and Means hearings, McClain responded, "I haven't given it enough thought. It's something I'll consider, just not today."
McClain added, "I did check with leadership and they're in agreement with supporting me on this."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.