Supplemental Pay or Supplemental Power?: Why the Ohio General Assembly's Compensation Structure Unconstitutionally Centralizes Power in the General Assembly Leadership
In the Ohio House and Senate, committee chairpersons and other select members of legislative committees receive a supplemental salary, in addition to their base legislator pay, for their service on the committee. The Ohio Constitution, however, mandates that legislator pay be fixed by law (hereinafter “Fixed Compensation Provision”) and that no changes to compensation take place during the term (hereinafter “No Change Provision”). Because the Speaker of the House and the Senate President have the power to discretionarily appoint and remove committee chairpersons during the term, compensation necessarily changes during the term of a removed chairperson. Such in-term changes violate the Ohio Constitution.
Further, this compensation structure incentivizes committee chairpersons to vote in lock-step with General Assembly leaders for fear of losing their supplemental salary. Committee chairpersons must decide either to vote with the leadership and keep their supplemental pay or oppose the leadership and be removed from the chair. In each circumstance, the chairperson is deprived of the opportunity to make an unbiased decision. As a result, power is centralized in the General Assembly leaders. To limit this centralization of power, the committee compensation structure should be declared unconstitutional for violating the constitutional mandate that compensation be fixed with no changes during the term. Further, this Note shows that the General Assembly leaders’ ability to control the salary of committee chairpersons reduces independent thought and deliberation among legislators when considering controversial legislation.
Note, Supplemental Pay or Supplemental Power?: Why the Ohio General Assembly's Compensation Structure Unconstitutionally Centralizes Power in the General Assembly Leadership, 63 Clev. St. L. Rev. 269 (2014)